Objectives of the study:
To examine the current status of education of children by social groups through secondary data and to assess the facilities available at schools in which they are studying.
To analyze the experiences and perceptions of school going students, school education completed students, and those who have dropped out their studies due to their socio-economic background.
To examine the awareness and the extend of utilization of facilities available at various levels by social groups and to find out the reasons for non-utilization of such facilities.
what is the educational status of SC children vis-a-vis others with reference to enrollment and retention?
What are the educational facilities available in their habitation?
Whether basic facilities are available in the schools?
What were the schooling experiences/ perceptions of students and those who have discontinued? Reasons attributed for the same.
Whether the parents felt school environment and infrastructural facilities are conducive for education of their children?
Are there any differences between the perceptions of SC students and others across Socio-economic groups about the relevance of education?
Are students aware of the facilities and incentives provided to SC children at different levels?
What are the reasons for non-utilization of the available facilities?
What is the role of socio-cultural milieu on the education of the SC children?
Sample of the study:
Data were collected from 1987 households from three districts in Tamil Nadu. Out of 1987 households, 755 (38 percent) belong to SCs and 1232 (62 percent) from non-SCs mainly from (BCs and MBCs).
For the purpose of the study, four tools were developed. Data relating to the general information was collected from 1987 head of the households in the first schedule. In the second schedule, data on perception of the school going children were collected from 1277 children. From the third schedule, information on the perception of dropout children was collected from 470 dropouts. In the fourth schedule, information on perception of school education completers was obtained from 208 school education completers.
Method of the study:
The study was qualitative in nature.
Average and Percentage analysis.
Findings of the study:
The total population of Tamil Nadu as per the 2001 Census is 624.06 lakhs. Of which, 118.58 lakhs (19%) are Scheduled Castes. Most of them are living in rural area. Education is considered as an important tool for the socio-economic development for the SCs. Educated persons are expected to earn more; thereby their living standard is also expected to be high.
Several welfare programmes have been conceived and implemented by the government for the promotion of educational attainment of SCs, but the progress is not commensurate with expectation. The rate of literacy among the SCs continues to low as compared to non SC/STs. The rate of enrolment has increased and the rate of drop outs has declined for both SCs and non-Scs.
The data presented above clearly indicate that over one-fifth of the households were headed by females; nearly three-fifths(58 percent) of the head of the households belong to the age group of 31-50 years; the average size of family per household was 1.6 for all social groups. It is significant to note that the larger proportion of the heads of household were agricultural workers and illiterate households among SCs as compared to non SCs.
As regards to the parents perception about the education of their children, 99 percent (1845 out of 1987) of parents have perceived that education will help the children in their future in all the three districts by both the parents of SCs and non SCs. There is no difference in parents help to their wards in studies. Only a small fraction of the students from SCs and non SCs assist their parents for relatively longer hours; majority of parents from among SCs and non-SCs were of the view that their children regularly study at home. There are no differences of opinion regarding the participation of students in curricular activities by all social groups. There is no difference of opinion in the relevance of present educational system and the compulsory education among the parents of SCs and non-SCs. There is no difference among the respondents by social groups relating to the quality of school education.
The dropouts by social groups are 48 percent among the non-SCs and 52 percent among the SCs. And there is not much difference among dropouts by social groups; 3 percent of the SCs and 5 percent of the non-SCs have stated that they had to dropout from the school due to poverty. Majority of the dropouts from from SCs were of the opinion that they were happy when they were studying and were regularly attending the school. The same is found to be true in the case of non-SCs. It is significant to note that 29 percent dropouts among SCs and 41 percent of dropouts among non-SCs were engaged in agriculture. It is significant to note that agriculture provides bulk of the employment opportunity. A significant proportion of dropouts from both SCs and non-SCs would like to continue their studies and also a significant proportion of the dropouts from both SCs and non-SCs would like to continue their studies and also a significant proportion of the dropouts have started that their parents were interested in sending them to school.
The proportion of school education completers by social groups shows that among the SCs the proportion of school completed children was high in the case of females; willingness to study further by the school education completers was high among non-SCs as compared to the SCs. A majority of the school education completers from both SCs and non-SCs were of the opinion that they are lucky enough to have completed their school studies. Further about three-fourths of the school education completers have opined that the life of dropout children would be different, if they had completed their schooling. Nearly one-fourth of the school education completers aspired to become professionally qualified persons. The analysis of data further shows that there was no discrimination against the students belonging to SCs in the school. A majority of the school education completers have opined that their behavior and thinking are different from the school dropouts.
Nearly 98 percent of the school going children has stated that they enjoyed going to school. Majority of the children from both SCs and STs have stated that they need the support of their parents and encouragement to their studies. Poverty, lack of interest in studies, looking after the younger siblings, attending the household chores, supporting the family by taking up income earning activities were the major causes for not going to school for all children. A majority of children from both SCs and non-SCs report to their parents about what is happening in schools. It is unfortunate that a majority of the parents, irrespective of their social background has not gone to school to enquire about their children’s education. Participation of the children of SCs was low in the activities of sports and games. It is significant to note that majority of the students belonging to both SCs and non-SCs have liked Tamil subject as compared to other subjects. Over 98 percent of students belonging to both SCs and non-SCs have the habit of completing the homework in time at home. The basic facilities, such as drinking water, electricity, fans, benches, toilets, playgrounds and library are not available to the majority of the children. A majority of the students have stated that their teachers are coming to the school and to the classes regularly; their teachers use teaching aids while teaching in the classrooms; their teachers give homework regularly and conduct class tests.
The present study on the participation and consequences of education in SC children would help us to identify the problems faced by the children of Scheduled Castes while pursuing their education. It will enable the researcher and the policy makers to know whether and to what extent various measures taken up by the government to improve the educational opportunities for these children have succeeded. Thus in turn, will provide sufficient input for the policy makers to take steps to make our education need based. Further, the study on the perception of children belonging to Scheduled Castes about the relevance of education will help curriculum planners to bring about necessary changes in the educational planning and curriculum development.
Keyword(s): Scheduled caste, socio-economic conditions