Prejudice in schoolyard (The Indian Express)

Context: There are various challenges associated with school learnings which need to be resolved.  

School education and social reality: An overview of challenges

  • School learning and rising criminalisation: Recent events of lynching and similar acts are deep-rooted prejudices, stereotypes, expressions of self-righteousness, mistrust and hatred for weaker sections.
  • Cleavages in society reflected in schools: As schools are a microcosm of larger society. 
    •  Eg. A Dalit girl’s experience will be different from a Brahmin boy, in the same school. 
  • Distinction among students on the basis of marks: It separate students from each other, high achievers are rewarded, made to wear marks of distinction, sometimes even physically separating them from weaker scoring students.
  • Schools and policies give little weightage to different forms of capital, like economic, social and cultural resources that influences student’s performance in school. 
    • Schools pretend that all is well in the world outside and shut themselves off from divergent experiences that different children may have. 
  • Regressive syllabi and approach: Syllabi, prescribed textbooks and examinations ensures that the child’s world (knowledge, language, culture, experiences) is not allowed to develop in a holistic way. 
  • Textbooks are responsible for perpetuating symbolic violence against certain social marginal groups.
    • Eg. Women and other social groups on gender spectrum, people with disabilities, hardly find any presence in textbooks. 
    • Loose, irresponsible statements are made in textbooks, which are then reinforced by teachers. Eg. Men going for work and women staying at home. 
  • Textbook’s tendency to sanitise: With no mention of any social evil/conflicts to keep them away from ill-effects. 
    • Eg. A child wearing a skull cap being teased outside the class and accused of being a terrorist on entering the classroom reads a textbook, which says, “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai apas mein bhai bhai”.

Way Forward:

  • Holistic approach to education: Taking into account right values addressing the social inequalities in society.
  • Curriculum centricity should go: Implement National Education Policy in letter and spirit.
    • Bring in subaltern literature and voices, and accorded legitimacy to multiple world views.
School/University as a microcosm of larger society; Homogenising rituals; Diversity, stratification and associated inequality and discrimination in education; Symbolic violence; Gender spectrum; Social inequalities; 
  • GS Paper 2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.