(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)
EQUALITY is an ideal rarely achieved in the real mundane world. People suffer inequalities in different ways because of various reasons and at the behest of agencies and organizations, individuals and institutions, social and power structures. These inequalities emerge from a host of systemic and a-systemic factors and in their cumulative effect prolong, sustain, legitimise and officiate the already prevalent inequalities manifest in various forms in society and making their elimination an impossibility of sorts.
Education has often been described as an emancipating and liberating praxis, something which is capable of pulverizing the inequalities in whatever form they exist and to bring in a certain quantum of socio-economic inequality, leverage the lives of underprivileged and brings them at par with the so-called“higher” echelons of social hierarchy. But here too an irony of sorts is witnessed and an unequal access to education for various social groups not only downplays the role of education but further aggravates the social standing of those already marginalised and ostracised.
Here we shall investigate the inequalities in access to education as they exist and manifest with reference to three groups of people in particular – people with disabilities, students from economically weaker sections of the society and the transgender community. It will be investigated as to how each of these groups suffer inequalities as far as access to quality education is concerned. It will explore how this inequality of access increases their state of marginalisation.
The problem with persons with disabilities starts right with the process of admission to educational institutes. There have been where persons with disabilities were denied admission at the outset. However, this is not it. The panorama of challenges and the spectrum of problems doesn't end with getting admitted to a school, it rather begins with it.
People living on the disability spectrum have varied needs and diverse customized requirements. In absence of trained teachers, proper logistics, desired gadgets and set of specific equipment and auxiliaries, the mission of imparting education to the specially-abled remains far from reality and doesn't precipitate in actuality.
A reads,“Jammu & Kashmir is the only state yet to implement a 2016 law that recognises 21 disabilities up from the earlier seven suggesting that actual numbers could be even higher. Infrastructure in the state is not disabled-friendly, activists said, especially in public offices and educational institutions”.
The structural barriers in schools, curtailing the accessibility of children with disabilities has often presented a dismal . No wonder that the dropout rate of children with disabilities has been alarmingly high, thereby making the prospect of their empowerment via education look bleak. Children with disabilities are more likely to drop out as compared to their peers who have no disabilities. These structural and visible barriers exist in addition to the intangible and abstract hurdles and blockades which exist in the path to education for people with disabilities. This includes, but is not limited to, the bullying and stigmatization of these children by their peers and at times by teachers too. These incidents leave an indelible scar marks on the psyche of the child and these challenges of psychological order at times become more consuming and complicated than the underlying physical disabilities. In this process, a child inevitably undergoes psychological trauma of full range and is left with little energy and determination to face these episodes of recurrent socio-psychological abuse and prefers to of the school/institute instead. The augmentative effect of all these detrimental factors not only leaves the children with disabilities behind their able bodied peers but also complicates their reception of the self by their body construction and the ensuing regressive and repressive consequences emerging there from.
Education in the modern world remains mostly privatized and even if a good portion of population attends to government schools, the general perception is that the government schools are a no match to the private institutions in terms of the quality of education provided, the infrastructure available and the emphasis on extra-curricular and overall personality development of a child. Precisely because of the added advantages associated with private schools, the children from economically well-off families are admitted to these institutions and children from economically weaker sections, who can't afford the exorbitant cost of education of private schools have to contend themselves with whatever little facilities are available and offered by the government schools. This results in well known“Private School Effect”, a scenario in which students from private schools outshine government schools and thereby an educational inequality stems from economic inequality which further feeds into the loop, thereby driving it out of limits. It was in the wake of this consciousness and an attempt to curb educational inequality resulting from economic inequality that the Andhra Pradesh government recently announced a for weaker sections in private unaided schools. But the precedent needs to be widely followed across the country to plug in the disparities in the education sector and to ensure that economic considerations are not a hindrance to the education one aspires to. It also calls government schools to wake up to their task of providing quality education and to fill up the existing in the education sector.
Additionally, the issues faced by and the exclusion meted out to transgender too is multi-pronged with much complicacy and nuance accompanying their social stigmatization, marginalisation and otherisation. The social construct is thus that it discourages the entrance of transgender to schools at the very inception. Even if they somehow succeed in the rarest of rare cases to secure admission in some educational institutions, the bullying and taunts they face is beyond imagination leading only to their further marginalization and traumatising them in despicable ways. Right up to the present day, society, in general, has condemned, intimidated, and alienated transgender people who do not conform to the so-called“mainstream” culture. They face discrimination in every aspect of their lives be it employment, legal recognition, access to social and economic opportunities, quality of life and livelihood, education, and other means of survival. In simple words, a life of dignity and respect is denied to them. The members of the transgender community rarely speak about these experiences in public spaces due to the taboos and stigmas attached to their sexuality and sexual orientation”, Tahmeena Rizvi. Infact, about 96% of transgender are denied jobs, 60% have . This being the situation in the country, the gravity and severity of the issue in Kashmir can be imagined well, which is already bereft by a host of socio-political quagmires.
No formal education for transgender is popular in Indian context. They are deprived from family and school environment, transgender discontinue their education and risk their future career opportunities. A close analysis of various reports and discussion with community and stakeholders suggest that transgender are most uneducated or undereducated, become reluctant to continue schooling. The average qualification is secondary or senior secondary level. The enrolment is significantly low and dropout rate at the primary and secondary level is still very high. They are hardly educated as they are nor accepted by the society and therefore do not receive proper schooling. Even if they are enrolled in an educational institute, they face harassment and are bullied every day and are asked to leave the school or they on their own.
The state of affairs in education as it reflects in unequal access to people from different backgrounds turns antithetical to the very enterprise and exercise of education and the manner in which it furthers the existing inequalities is tragic and inhuman. The ideal and objective of education remains defeated in absence of inclusion and this inclusion draws our attention to the marginalised and left out sections of our society and impels all stakeholders to take inclusion to its logical limits by making education an emancipator and leveller. Only then shall education spell out as light in the darkness of the world.
- Views expressed in the article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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