Monday, April 13, 2015

Anti-caste campaign launched as Gujarat rural schools "display" caste, sub-caste of children on notice boards

By Our Representative
In a stark revelation, several rural schools in Gujarat have begun to display their notice boards with castes and sub-castes represented in the schools. Alleging this is how the rural schools in Gujarat are splurging public money, well-known Dalit rights activist, Martin Macwan has told Counterview, "I have seen this in several schools. It is a new trend. This should be reversed."
Macwan significantly said this on the sidelines of a function organized by a school run by the Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust, the NGO founded by him, launched the "No caste, No plastics" campaign on Sunday. The schools is situated 80 kilomtres west of Ahmedabad, and the function was meant to seek people's support contribution in order to propagate the "no-caste" concept.
A unique school where caste discrimination is an anathema and children are taught why it should be shed, Macwan told the audience, "While the Gujarat government has sought people's support in its 'no plastics' campaign, we believe that it is incomplete without the slogan 'no caste, no plastics'."
Situated in Limbdi taluka of Surendranagar district on the highway connecting Ahmedabad and Rajkot, the children at the school uniquely wore Aam Aadmi Party-type "No caste, No plastics" Gandhi topi. The function was held to mark the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar, father of Indian constitution, which falls on April 14. Children of classes fifth to eighth study here.
Mainly consisting Dalit and OBC children, the venue of the school had several bills on display with tens of slogans painted by children on the "No caste" theme. The participants, who included well-known Gandhian activist Indukumar Jani, were called upon to tick the slogans which they liked the most. "The OBC parents, mostly Bharwads, were initially reluctant, but found this school to be more useful for their children, hence decided to admit them here". said Macwan.
"We believe that those who are interested in learning should pay for what they study, one reason why we decided to take Rs 750 per month from the children who come here to study. We are a residential school, one reason why the amount mostly goes into the payment of meals". Macwan said.
"Our expenses per child are Rs 1,300, plus we must improve infrastructure facilities in order to begin new classes. Hence the need to collect funds from different sections of society", Macwan said. "We are glad that we are getting good response." As the function drew to a close, participants rushed to donate funds to the school and its campaig.n
The campaign saw children speaking from the stage exhorting audience, which included social workers, parents and other relatives of the students, to shed caste, which they said was the main bane of the rural life in Gujarat. "Unless you remove untouchability and caste discrimination, social fabric will remove divided", said Vijay, a student who took the centre-stage.
A play staged on the occasion gave the message that today's politician's chair had four legs -- casteism, communalism, corruption and violence. Another play was staged in the memory of Savitriben Phule, well-known school teacher who brought education to rural women in Maharashtra. Later on, the participants at the function -- which was held to mark the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar -- tasted food prepared by the children for lunch.

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