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Adivasis "don't exist" in Gujarati textbooks, one of these "show" American flag and white judge in apex court

Gaurang Jani and Hemant Shah
By Our Representative
In a stark revelation, the word “adivasi” (tribal) does not find mention in any of the Gujarati language textbooks, ranging from classes 5th to 12th. Speaking on the state of textbooks being taught in Gujarat schools, Gaurang Jani, professor of sociology, Gujarat University, said that there are 15% tribals in Gujarat, and their children would naturally feel alienated as a result of this type of discrimination.
“A child studying in the predominantly tribal district of Dahod does not identify herself or himself with the textbooks she or he reads. Yet, the child is made to compete with those who study in a posh Ahmedabad locality of Navrangpura. Is this an equal competition?”, he wondered.
Jani was speaking at a convention in Ahmedabad on inclusive education organized by the Jan Adhikar Manch, an umbrella organization of several grassroots organizations in Gujarat.
Seeking total overhaul of all Gujarat textbooks, Jani further disclosed that in the social science textbook of the 6th standard, which has a chapter on courts, photographs show white men as judges of lower courts, high courts, and the Supreme Court. “Worse”, he added, “The Supreme Court photograph carries an American flag.”
Suggesting that he gave these two examples to showcase the type of education Gujarat’s children are being offered in the state, Jani said, “What is equally shocking is, the very concept of having a caring nature towards the deprived is being erased from schools.”
“Thus”, he said, “The well-known poem by Narsinh Mehta ‘Vaishnav jan to tene re kahiye’ (a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi), which seeks to suggest that the ideal human being is one who cares for the poor, was first removed both from the textbooks and prayers of the primary school, then from the secondary school, and finally from the higher secondary school.”
“In the B Ed classes, the future teachers are not taught anything about social stratification from which the Indian society suffers. As a result, the teachers who come out have little knowledge of how to make children aware about social oppression”, Jani said, adding, “One thing they are invariably taught is, there should be an hour long prayer in schools ahead of teaching. The result is: there is a sharp rise in religious obscurantism among teachers.”
Speaking at the convention, another academic, Prof Hemant Shah, who teaches economics in a Gujarat University college, said, according to his calculation, a large majority of children of the 15.83 lakh admitted in 2007-08 in the first standard, progressively dropped out, despite the big talk of negligible dropout rate.
“This year, 10.8 lakh children of those admitted a decade ago took board examination in the tenth standard. It means that five lakh children dropped out at the secondary level. A further investigation revealed that just 5.3 lakh children appeared in the higher secondary examination last year. Of these, if one considers 70% result, those who are able to go to college would be just around 4.5 lakh lakh”, he said.
He added, “Consider this: A decade ago, 4 lakh children were admitted in colleges in Gujarat, suggesting there is little change despite rise in population.”
Results of a study on discrimination in education system by NGO Janvikas, released at the convention, suggested that 50% of the respondents confirmed that “children from minority community are advised by teachers to take admission in their religious school.”
Taking a view from 131 respondents, all of whom happen to be community level volunteers, the study further revealed that 20% found teachers call students by caste not by name, 21% found that teachers use derogatory words for minorities, 32% found that midday meal is given in plates with numbers written on them, so that the plates meant for dominant caste people do not go to Dalits, and in 14% cases, it was found, Hindu and Muslim students are asked to sit separately.

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