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EducationÂ in its broadest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on theÂ mind,Â characterÂ or physical ability of an individual. In its technical senseÂ educationÂ is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulatedÂ knowledge,Â skillsÂ andÂ valuesÂ from one generation to another. Education aims at achieving certain broader goals like bringing about all-round development in the individual and simultaneously fulfilling the societal aspirations. The purpose of education mainly revolves around the development and perfection of both individual and society.
In the above stated background this paper firstly, discusses the purpose of the education by the help of the various definitions of education given by great persons like Gandhiji, R.N. Tagore, H. Spencer etc. Thereafter it list out various programmes and policies such as NPE 1986, Programme of Action (POA) 1986, the Revised Policy Formulations (RPF) in POA 1992 etc. that are initiated by the government of India for the betterment of Tribal education. The impacts of these programmes on tribal education are then analyzed by the help of the data published by the various government agencies. Some strategies for intervention along with the specific areas such as physical location of the villages, potentialities of the teachers, parental involvement in schools, tribal students, study materials and books and social and cultural issues are then prescribed. The paper concludes by pointing out that in order to get fruitful results these strategies needs a lot of patience, perseverance and forego of many conventional methods which is practiced from a long time. If we succeed in all these endeavors, which are mentioned in the entire paper, definitely it will lead to success.
The defining feature of human behaviour is that there is always a reason behind any action. When somebody does something he/she does so with a purpose or several purposes. Whenever we see a person doing something the question that comes to our mind is 'what is he/she doing that?' 'The appropriate response to this question is the purpose informing his/her action. Every action must have a meaning, must have a purpose. No sensible person engages himself/herself in a meaningless and purposeless activity. Educating people is necessarily a human activity. Therefore it is subject to several questions such as why do we educate people?' 'what are we striving to achieve through education?' and so on.
The issue of the purpose of education is of utmost importance because all other aspects of education like the content (subject matter) method (of teaching and instruction), discipline and evaluation are inextricably intertwined with it. It is the purpose of education which gives direction to the educative process. What content must be included in the curriculum? What sort of experiences will be worthy for students? How will the student and teacher relate with each other? All these stem from how we perceive or explicitly define the purpose of education. Without the purpose, education is meaningless and least likely to culminate in anything meaningful, like a ship losing its direction in the deep sea and reaches nowhere.
Let us see some well-known definitions of education that prove this point.
- "Education is helping the growing soul to draw out that is in itself which is best and making it perfect for a noble use" (Sri Aurobindo).
- "Education means enabling the mind to find out that ultimate truth which emancipates us from the bondage of dust and gives us the wealth not of things but of inner light, not of power but of love" (R.N. Tagore).
- Education means, "An all round drawing out of the best in child and man body, mind and spirit" (M.K. Gandhi).
- "Education is complete living" (H. Spencer).
Thus, the purpose of education is quite clear from these definitions. In fact, all these thinkers referred to above evolved their own schemes/system of education according to their own conception of the purpose of education. For instance, in Gandhi's scheme of Basic Education the types of subject taught, the experiences provided to pupils and the disciplined environment to which the students were exposed all those were in line with how he perceived the meaning of education as the process of drawing out the best from the pupil.
Government Initiatives for Tribal Education
During the post-independence period, the Government of India has initiated several measures to provide equal educational opportunities to SC and ST children. The NPE 1986 stressed on the removal of disparities and attainment of equalisation of educational opportunities for ST. Programme of Action (POA) 1986 described a number of strategies aimed at accelerating their enrolment and retention. Some of the initiatives in this regard include a number of centrally sponsored schemes for STs . These are:
i) Initiatives to indigent families to send their children to school regularly till they reach the age of 14 years.
ii) Pre-matric scholarship scheme for children of families engaged in occupations such as scavenging, flaying and tanning from Class 1.
iii) Post-matric scholarships.
iv)Grant-in-aid to voluntary organisation working to promote education among ST children.
v) Abolition of tuition fee in all states in government schools at least up to upper primary level. Most of the states have abolished tuition fee for ST students up to senior secondary level: these states also provide incentives like free textbooks, uniforms, mid-day meal, school bags, slates etc. to these children.
vi) Special educational development programmes for girls belonging to scheduled castes of very low literacy level.
vii) Provision of boys and girls hostels for ST children.
viii) Reservation in recruitment of teachers from STs.
ix) Location of school buildings, Balwadis and adult education centers in such a way as to facilitate full participation of the children from ST communities.
x) Provision of a primary school or non-formal education centre in every scheduled tribe habitation.
xi) Provision of educational complex in low literacy pockets for development of girls's education in tribal areas. Some of such complexes are exclusively meant for tribal girls.
xii) Residential schools including ashram schools are being established on a large scale for ST children as their effectiveness has been demonstrated in many states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
xiii) Major programmes of the department of education like UEE, Operation Blackboard, Non-Formal Education, DPEP etc. accord priority to the education of ST children. 'Lok Jumbish' and 'Shiksha Karmi' projects have a specific focus on ST inhabited areas.
xiv) Reservations for ST children in educational institutions at all levels of education.
xv) Under total literacy campaigns the ST populations are the main targets.
xvi) In Navodaya Vidyalayas, admission for SC and ST children are reserved on the basis of either the national norm of 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively or of the percentage of ST population in the district, whichever is higher.
xvii) Coaching and remedial teaching classes are being organised for ST and other backward sections in order to enhance scholastic achievement of these students. Special coaching for entrance examinations for institutions of higher learning particularly for professional courses is being provided to ST students of classes X and XII.
xviii) Additional scholarships are provided for ST girl students in the secondary and senior secondary classes. Special coaching and remedial courses are being organised for ST girl students.
xix) The Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore and the Tribal Research Institutes in many states now play an important role. CIIL prepares textbooks, dictionaries, and bilingual textbooks facilitating translation from regional languages to tribal languages. The CIIL has worked in 75 tribal languages.
xx) The NCERT has prepared, developed and published 10 textbooks in tribal dialects and has further prepared teaching-learning materials in 15 tribal dialects.
While reiterating the priority for UEE as well as the policy frame outlined by NPE, 1986, the Revised Policy Formulations (RPF) in POA 1992 brought the following special provisions for STs which have been incorporated in the existing schemes of the Departments of Elementary Education and Literacy and Secondary and Higher Education: (a) Relaxed norms for opening of primary/middle schools; a primary school within one km walking distance from habitations of population upto 200 instead of habitations of up to 300 population. (b) Abolition of tuition fee in all States in Government Schools at least up to the upper primary level. In fact, most of the states have abolished tuition fees for ST students up to the senior secondary level. (c) Incentives like free textbooks, uniforms, stationery, schools bags, etc., for these students. (d) The Constitutional (86th Amendment) Bill, notified on 13 December 2002, provides for free and compulsory elementary education as a Fundamental Right, for all children in the age group of 6-14 years. (e) Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) : SSA is a historic stride towards achieving the long cherished goal of Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) through a time bound integrated approach, in partnership with States. SSA, which promises to change the face of elementary education sector of the country, aims to provide useful and quality elementary education to all children in the 6-14 age groups by 2010. The main features of the programme are: (i) Focus on girls, especially belonging to ST communities and minority groups. (ii) Back to school campus for out of school girls. (iii) Free textbooks for girls. (iv) Special coaching remedial classes for girls and a congenial learning environment. (v) Teachers' sensitisation programmes to promote equitable learning opportunities. (vi) Special focus for innovative projects related to girls education. (vii) Recruitment of 50 per cent female teachers.
Impact of government programmes on the education of ST
Reviewing the progress of education among ST children I observed that there is substantial increase in literacy of STs since independence e.g. the literacy rate of ST has increased from 8.54 in 1961 to 47.10% in 2001. Let us compare literacy of ST with the rest of the population.
Table 1 Comparative Literacy Rate in Percentage
(Source -Cencus of India 1991 and 2001)
Table 1 clearly shows that the literacy rates of STs are still much lower than the literacy rate of other communities. Literacy rate of female is lower than that of males and ST rural girls are at the bottom of Literacy rung.
There is no doubt that that the literacy level of the ST is improving but literacy and education are two different things. UNESCO defines literacy as "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts" whereas education is defined as "any act or experience that has a formative effect on theÂ mind,Â characterÂ or physical ability of an individual". Therefore in order to asses the real position of education among the tribals we have to look towards the Gross Enrolment Rate (GER)Â i.e. percentage of the estimated child population in the 6-14 age group enrolled in classes I to VIII and Gross Dropout Rate (GDR) i.e. percentage of students who drop out from a given grade in a given year .GER of ST students decreased in 2002-03 and 2003-04 in 18 and 17 states. The decrease ranged from 1.98 to 38.46 per cent and 0.97 and 30.72 per cent, respectively. The gap between general candidates and STs, which was 15.1 per cent in 2001-02, was 16.6 per cent in 2003-04, was observed. Thus there is an immediate need of the some intervention in the strategies of the government programmes so that the basic purpose of the education may be achieved.
STRATEGIES FOR INTERVENTION
The results of the government initiative are praiseworthy but it is just a toe hold. Keeping in view the magnitude of the problem every one of us has to work towards this goal. Some of the key strategies for intervention along with the specific area, which the government programmes, in order to achieve the true purpose of the education are as follows:-
Specific Areas of Intervention
A) Physical Location of the Villages
1. A realistic survey should be made in the tribal areas as regards how many children are not coming to schools and about the actual number of schools required.
2. To open up schools in those villages, where there is no school at all.
3. To open up more number of Ashram schools.
4. School buildings having at least 2/3 rooms should be opened up.
5. To open up pre-school centers.
6. To install tube wells near the schools.
7. To make provisions for toilets.
8. To provide accommodation facilities for the teachers.
9. The school timings in the tribal areas should be fixed keeping in harmony with their Mechanized Food Processing (MFP) collection and agricultural seasons, school timings should be changed at the block level. The holiday patterns should be changed accordingly keeping in view the cultivation period/MFP collection seasons.
B) To Increase the Potentialities of the Teachers
1. The teachers should be associated with the day-to-day lifestyle of the villagers.
2. To provide residential accommodation for the teachers.
3. To enhance the relationship between teachers and students.
4. To appoint trained young teachers in tribal areas.
5. The training programmes for teachers should highlight more of tribal problems.
6. Consciousness should be created among the VEC members and parents to check teacher's absenteeism.
7. Special incentives and allowance should be provided to the teachers working in tribal areas. They should be transferred to plain areas after serving 3/4 years in tribal areas.
8. Special training to tribal teachers and special coaching to tribal students.
9. The teachers should have knowledge about the tribal environment and local tradition.
10. The teachers should be given tribal language training.
11. Social source book for teachers may be prepared to develop the tribal knowledge such as folk songs, tales, proverbs, riddles, play songs, traditional games, dance, music etc. to impart joy of learning through the folklore and bridge the gap of home culture and school atmosphere.
12. The teachers should use the colloquial native language while teaching the tribal children.
13. The school time table should be co-opted with the agricultural and social necessities, which will facilitate the parents in economic development and educational development of the child.
C) Parental Involvement in Schools
1. To organize gram sabhas by summoning the panch, the villagers and their leaders.
2. To identifying the issues involved in education & to sort out their solution from the people.
3. To make the parents understand the values of education through literacy campaigns.
4. To associate the villagers in the various cultural functions (Pujas, national celebrations, children's fairs, meetings).
5. The parents should also invite the teachers to join in the various festivals organised in the villages.
6. The educational and the developmental responsibilities of the school should be entrusted to the villagers.
7. To organize Mahila Samities to increase literacy among the women and to enhance the attendance rate among the girls.
D) Tribal Students
In order to bring the children of 6-14 age groups to the pale of primary education, the following measures are to be taken:
1. To open up Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centers in tribal villages.
2. To open up Non Formal Education (NFE) centers (where there are no schools).
3. The teachers should establish a healthy rapport with the tribal students and create a positive environment for them.
4. The authorities should take care to supply the books at the proper time.
5. The parents should provide scope to their children to learn their lessons at home.
6. Instead of teaching the students about world view or national issues, ample scope should be given to them for local visits.
7. To provide free of cost health services.
8. To keep harmony between school timings and daily routine work and agricultural work.
9. The teachers should command love and affection from the students.
10. The children should organize their traditional games, folk dance and music in the schools.
E) Study Materials and Books
1. The study materials needed for class room teaching should be provided in time. The materials and the textbooks provided under Operation Black Board Schemes and Welfare Department should be properly utilised. Services of the local architect, painters, and artists should be utilised to build up required study materials.
2. Preparation of the text books and supplementary readers: The text books should be based on the traditional knowledge and folklore of the tribals. The Chart given below shows the linkage that can be established between the tribal folklore and Modern Language and Literature (MLL) text books.
Local Knowledge of the Tribals
Analysis of the Subject
The fixed content of the MLL to be presented
Cross matching Synthesis
Framing the Text book
1. Selection of the Topics
2. The sociocultural foundation of tribals on the basis of social change
The level to be determined according to the age of the child
Chart showing the linkage that can be established between the tribal folklore and MLL text books.
F) Conditions of the Educational Institutions
1. More number of residential ashram schools are to be opened in tribal areas.
2. Constructing houses for the teachers.
3. Village Education Committee (VEC) to take up the responsibilities of the school.
4. To open NFE Centers in the scattered tribal habitations.
5. To decorate the classrooms with the art of tribal girls.
6. To increase dignity of labour in the minds of the children by creating green gardens in the school compound.
G) Social and Cultural Issues
Communal life forms a basic parameter of the tribal society. It finds manifestation through the various festivals and cultural celebrations. If the teachers can participate in these occasions by giving due regards to the tribal culture, then She can build up a good educational centre in the village. In the tribal village, the teacher should be a learner, more specifically a 'seeker' of local knowledge from the tribal culture, which would ultimately turn into a global knowledge. The oral tradition in teaching must be an important device to develop the personality of a tribal child from its own cultural environment, instead of creating an artificial blurred personality dissociated with home and school environment. To bridge the gap of the socio-cultural environment with that of the school curriculum exploration of rich tribal folklore can be helpful in the promotion of tribal education.
The evidences suggest that tribal children do possess the basic cognitive abilities and psychological dispositions necessary for successful participation in school. Yet tribal children have very low levels of participation and success in school education programmes. This points to our failure to develop a sensitive model of education that is rooted in the psychological strengths of tribal children. Studies indicate that, in comparison to other groups, hunters and gatherers possess a high level of visual and tactual differentiation; they demonstrate capacity for fine judgment of shape and size of stimuli as well as spatial relations and they produce fine categorization of an array of objects. These abilities are required for success in science, art, music, dance, athletic activities, and vocations like carpentry, tailoring, wood and stone crafts. These skills need to be utilized not only for education of tribal children in schools, but also in the broader economic spheres of tribal life. Therefore the strategies pointed above will be very helpful in generating and promoting the sense of competence, self-efficacy, self respect and positive self-image among tribal children in general.
These strategies are also highly likely to provide tribal children with a culturally meaningful, ecologically valid and economically viable alternative to life by reinforcing the dignity of their culture and identity. But in order to get fruitful results these strategies needs a lot of patience, perseverance and forego of many conventional methods which is practiced from a long time.