India: Marginalized Children Denied Education (Human Rights Watch press release)
“The 77-page report, ‘‘They Say We’re Dirty’: Denying an Education to India’s Marginalized,’ documents discrimination by school authorities in four Indian states against Dalit, tribal, and Muslim children. The discrimination creates an unwelcome atmosphere that can lead to truancy and eventually may lead the child to stop going to school.
“‘The teacher tells us to sit on the other side,’ said ‘Pankaj,’ an eight-year-old tribal boy from Uttar Pradesh. ‘If we sit with others, she scolds us and asks us to sit separately. The teacher doesn’t sit with us because she says we “are dirty.”’
“Marginalized groups continue to face discrimination in India despite constitutional guarantees and laws prohibiting discrimination, Human Rights Watch said. School authorities reinforce age-old discriminatory attitudes based on caste, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Children from Dalit, tribal, and Muslim communities are often made to sit at the back of the class or in separate rooms, insulted by the use of derogatory names, denied leadership roles, and served food last.They are even told to clean toilets, while children from traditionally privileged groups are not. [...]
“‘Whenever the teachers are angry, they call us Mullahs. The Hindu boys also call us Mullahs because our fathers have beards. We feel insulted when they refer to us like this.’ – Javed, a 10-year-old Muslim boy, Delhi
“‘The teacher always made us sit in a corner of the room, and would throw keys at us [when she was angry]. We only got food if anything was left after other children were served…. [G]radually [we] stopped going to school.’ – Shyam, a 14-year-old Dalit boy, Uttar Pradesh
“‘We were asked to massage a teacher’s legs. If we refused, he used to beat us. There was a toilet for teachers, which is the one we had to clean.’ – Naresh, a 12-year-old Dalit boy, Bihar”