Educating Underprivileged – Some critical concerns

Educating Underprivileged – Some critical concerns

Despite several alluring programmes and incentives in the form of cash and kinds, majority of underprivileged and poor children prefer not to go to school. Even if they do, they don’t continue there. Is it because they don’t understand the value of education or the interventions are not attractive enough to retain them in school? So far we thought that poor people being deprived of physical amenities may be lured by physical benefits only. But, this has not proved correct. Physical allurement have not been able to retain poorer children within four walls of schools. Our approach has been grossly misdirected. The main malaise seems to lie somewhere else. Education today is highly dominated by middle class considerations and concerns with no room for lower class aspirations and talent to be nurtured properly to fully blossom. Unless education system takes care of the peculiar nature of the psychology of the underprivileged, their needs and aspirations and the special circumstances in which a underprivileged child is born and brought up, we cannot expect to make a dent in the existing scenario.

Scientific studies have established that maximum development of brain in a child takes place before the age of 5 years. So the learning of the child would largely depend on the foundation laid during these early years. It has been found that if a child is born with good eyes but his eyes are covered for 3-4 years, then he may not be able to see all through his life even though his eyes may be physically well. This happens because the connections of neurons in respect of vision matures by the age of 3-4 years. If proper care is not taken to develop them, then these neuron connections may not develop in future.

Considering that all children are born with statistically similar physical properties of brain, environmental factors in which the child is brought up in initial years would greatly influence the nature of the development of brain. How does a underprivileged child spend his initial years of life? He is born in a family where earning largely depends on the manual work. Their parents are experts in manual jobs, so he also gets more exposure of manual activities. A child in a shepherd’s family starts going to the field with his sheep early in life. So the sensory organs pertaining to various competencies related to the rearing of sheep would get more opportunity of development. He would have better recognition of the expression of the voices of sheep at different hours of day or in times of hunger and pain. He would have better power of listening of the foot steps of sheep. All this he may learn from his parents even in the course of daily interaction. In the process of rearing he gets more chance of moving through fields and forests, so he gets more opportunity for development of his kinesthetic ability. In fact, the peculiar nature of the family background provides him with certain definite pattern of the development of his brain. He gets an initial advantage in certain skills, whereas he may not get similar advantage in other skills.

Now what happens when he is taken to the school? In the schools intellectual skills are valued more than the skills for manual work. The child who had seen in the family giving more time and energy for manual work suddenly finds that his skills pertaining to manual work is of no significance here. No one discusses there anything about sheep rearing or anything related to that. He gets a severe psychological trauma. So far he had held the values related to sheep rearing to be so important. He must have dreamt of becoming a big shepherd on becoming adult having thousand of sheep in his herd. But, now he finds that knowledge to be of no use. In the schools there is no talk of the conditions in which a child has been living before coming to the school. In fact, there is no attempt to build upon the existing knowledge acquired by the child. There is a standard theory of education of teaching from “known to unknown”. In the name of having uniform syllabi, we have same set of books for all schools and all children. That too is heavily dominated by care and concerns of urban middle class. Thus, a underprivileged child finds the atmosphere to be suffocating and disgusting and is not motivated enough to stay in the class. Even if he stays there under parents’ pressure or other circumstances, his achievement level is generally low. Let’s probe the matter a little further.

Generalised concept of Education
In the last few decades the concept of education has undergone largescale change. Education is no longer conceived as a classroom activity only, rather it is now seen to be acquired anywhere, anytime and by any process. What we should, now, be concerned is the achievement and not the process or place of learning. A person like Rabindra Nath Tagore could learn without any formal schooling and achieve one of the greatest recognition in literature as Nobel Prize. Similarly, if Bill Gates can become one of the leading innovators of our times without much formal schooling, then entire learning system must be seen afresh with a new vision.

In this concept, education no longer remains a time-bound, place-bound process confined to the four boundaries of the school system and measured in terms of years of exposure of classroom teaching. Education is, now, equated with learning no matter how, when and where it is acquired. Clearly, as compared to the earlier structural and institutional approach, the functional approach to education is becoming more and more acceptable.

In this context, now a person is said to acquire knowledge through three ways:

Formal learning: It is highly structured learning with fixed syllabus, fixed curriculum, place-bound and time-bound activity. It is what we generally refer to as school or university education.

Semi-formal or Non-formal learning: It is learning through learner oriented semi-organised and loosely structured short-term programmes of governmental, non-governmental organisations and traditional activities.

Informal learning: It is learning through most casual and incidental activities performed during day-to- day interactions.

In generalised concept of education steps must be taken to ensure that a child is able to develop all types of learnings. This would require that persons involved in these learning processes should be utilised to a large extent in the learning process of the child. Present education is fully dependent on the teacher for teaching process. In the case of educated parents child gets lot of inputs from them. Thus, the child gets more achievement in comparison to the child whose parents are illiterate.The key question is how we can involve parents and other persons in the neighbourhood in the learning process of the children.

All persons are educated. Even socalled illitrate persons have lot of experience and knowledge. They can be engaged in the learning process provided we can reorient education to generate conditions where those knowledge also has an importnt role. If we build up a learning system in which information base of parents and neighbouhood can be fully utilised, then we can expect even illiterate parents to play an important role in the learning process. We shall see this point in greater detail later.

In this concept of education a learner is supposed to learn all through 24 hours. A child in the middle or upper class child comes back to house and after taking rest and play again applies himself to a home work or other learning processes related to the formal learning process. He has more learning gadgets and toys. He also has the free time to use them. This extra opportunity is also responsible for greater achievement to the child. In the present level of economy children in poor family cannot be expected to remain available at home only for learning process. It would be difficult to provide them with the modern gadgets of learning. Hence there is need to devise activities, games, learning programmes and gadgets to suit the economic condition of the community, which can be used by the children even while they are away from home.

Vivekanand had said, “If mountain cannot come to Mohammad, Mohammad should go to the mountain.” If children are not available for learning activities at home, let’s design activities, toys, games and learning process which can move with children. That is the only way to ensure learning achievement of the underpriviledged and poor children equal to the middle class children.

Theory of multiple intelligence and underpriviledged education
Let us see it from a different angle. Within the education community, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences have been translated into a recognition that children excelling in certain “intelligences” learn best in one of these seven different styles of learning. It emphasises that different learners have different learning styles.

In this sense, learners learn best in one or more of the following learning styles.

  • Verbal
  • Logical
  • Spatial
  • Rhythmic
  • Kinesthetic
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal

The learning style basically denotes the intelligence method through which a learner is able to gather maximum information in minimum time. Hence, for proper transaction of curriculum it would be imperative to develop teaching learning materials in different learning methods so that each child receives the material through his own learning style.

Attempt should be made to develop different intelligence channels of the information available to a person. If a person is deficient in certain areas of intelligence, one should concentrate on the existing areas of intelligence only. For example, a blind learner is not able to see, so he would not be able to learn visully. Thus, his language learning would be dependent on auditory verbal mode. The language signs then take help of tectitle learning, as in Braille script..

As different children have different learning styles, they receive information through different methods in their brain. A spatial child receives information through spatial methods, so even mathematics has to be taught to him/her through spatial techniques otherwise the achievement level would be low. He/she would be able to understand any subject in a better way through paintings, visual aids, geometrical methods, etc. Similarly, kinesthetic children need the curriculum to be transacted through actual body movements, physical activities, hand work, etc. So, the methods must be developed to transact mathematical concepts through kinesthetic techniques.

Thus we should design teaching learning techniques which takes care of learners of different learning styles.As learners generally have mixed learning styles, we should develop teaching learning methods which may address to as many learning styles as possible.

Further, it would also be necessary to develop relevant teaching learning materials in the contexual set up of the child. If the child spends lot of time in the field rearing the cattle, or moving in forest we should develop teaching learning materials which he/she can use in the field. This would help the child in using all his energy and time for learning.

Teaching learning methods and materials also need to be developed to take care of family vocation and and environment. if the elementary learning does not take care of this relevance child may find the atmosphere to be alien and may not develop a sense of respect for himself and his surrounding.This may ultimately lead to inferiority complex resulting into serious disorder in personality. Thus there is a great need to use local materials and cultural methods in elementary learning. If broomsticks are used in the family, elementary learning may use of it in developing various competencies. If ladies knit sweaters, mathematics or any other subject may use knitting process as a teaching learning method.

Our teaching learning methods are heavily dependent on verbal and logical intelligence. Hence, many children whose verbal and logical intelligence are low are termed as poor achievers. A person like Sachin Tendulkar, whose kinesthetic intelligence is very high, may not get good grades in the present system of leraning. So for such learners we must have teaching based on kinesthetic mode.Similarly, a person like Lata Mangeshkar may be termed as poor achievers in the present system of education, but if the teaching method is changed to rhythmic style, same learner may become very high achiever. This leads us to have a fresh look at the entire teaching and learning methodology.

In light of the theory of multiple intelligence the teaching/ learning methodology should be different for different learning styles. Hence, there is a need to divide learners into various groups or sections based on their learning styles rather than on the merit based on language or mathematical skills only. Then all subjects can be taught in a class mainly through that particular learning style. For example, for a kinesthetic section learners would be taught mathematics, language, science and social studies maily through kinesthetic methods. It should be clarified that in the kinesthetic section not all classes would be taken in kinestheic way but majority of class would be taken this way only. This ideal situation is difficult to achieve as it requires large resource base.

So there is another alternative. We can develop a system in which everyday a child is exposed to materials through all intelligence methods. It would require teaching language in spatial method , mathematics through verbal method, science through rhythmic method and so on in the same day. Next day the language may be taught through interpersonal method, mathematics through rhythmic method, science through verbal method and so on.

Children are born with mixed composition of these intelligence. Gradually, some of them which are properly nursed and nurtured develop.As lower class children have to spend more time in an environment of kinesthetic activity. Obviously their kinesthetic intelligence is likely to develop much more than other intelligence.A cattle gazer would have better understanding of physical activities as he has to move a lot with the animals in forest and fields. Some of the communities like Chamar (Charmakar) have very strong traditions of singing and playing instruments. In their cases the rhythmic intelligence is likely to be more developed. In short, different communities have different cultural practices. These practices basically provide an environment for learning in the early years of childhood and thus determine the nature of development of the spectrum of intelligence. Therefore, at elementary level we must have a learning system, which can take care of this differentiality of intelligence leading to different learning styles among various communities must be taken into account.

Today education is highly dominated by verbal and logical methods of learning. Children from different communities, who donot have these intelligence developed to that extent find it difficult to cope up with the task in comparison to those who are coming from the background where verbal and logical activities are undertaken and valued. A child in a fishing community spends most of his time in early childhood in catching fishes and swimming in ponds and rivers. He develops skills pertaing to those activity. In fact many of them would be highly creative in these skills. But, in the schools these talents would not find any opportunity of expression.

It would be difficult to have provision for learning pertaining to all learning styles in a small school. This is possible only in bigger schools where we have large number of children. There separate sections are possible for different learning styles. In villages, where underprivileged and downtrodden live, we cannot think of such facility. There we have two options. First, we can follow a teaching for mixed learning styles at elementary level. This would take care of separate requirement of different learning styles. The second option is to have a mixed learning style with more emphasis on the dominant learning style pertaining to the sociological study of learning style of the area. This necessitates development of separate teaching learning styles based on local conditions.

Relevant content of learning
As we have already seen one of the serious problems of the present education system is that it is highly skewed in favour of urban middle class. In fact, it promotes the values mainly cherished by urban middle class. It is based on the facts associated with their lives and life-styles. It does not take care of the requirements of the rural population. It has been generally argued that education should be uniform. Same curriculum and syllabi should be followed to ensure equal achievement.

So the lower class people don’t find the learning system relevant and worth pursuing. Even if they join it, they don’t feel comfortable as the content of teaching is mostly taken from the lives and life-styles of middle class. When children from lower class join the education system, they feel alienated from their own life-style, symbols and values. A child from Mushar community spends his initial years of life in the field helping parents in farming or catching rats. When he comes to school, nothing is taught in the school which can indicate that farming is an important activity of society. He never finds his teacher telling that catching rats is an important sport, which involves courage, alertness and agility. On the contrary, he may find his teacher decrying these activities. As a teacher has a mesmerizing effect on the young mind, the child takes the words of the teacher to be the gospel truth. This truth is different from the concept of truth he has framed in his mind so far. The world view that he has evolved in his mind does not find acceptance in the school. Whatever he has held to be sacrosanct so far in life are not considered to be important in school. In early years of life he considers his parents and other near and dear to be his role model. This undergoes drastic change on joining the school. This is a big psychological trauma. He begins to have a poor opinion of his own self and neighbourhood.

Vinoba Bhave strongly criticised the present system of education as it doesn’t take into account the experiences of a child in the early years of life and tries to build upon it. A child of a fishing community spends maximum time near water catching and handling fishes. But in the school he doesn’t find anything that may highlight the skills acquired regarding swimming, fishing, or anything related to fish. The school does not tell the important contribution of fishing community in the development of society. It does not say how many innovations have been made by his family members, ancestors or other members of fishing community.

This alien education actually alienates them from their past and present. They start feeling a sense of alienation from their parents, neighbours and all that is there in their neighbourhood. They find their parents’ work to be inferior, their village life disgusting and the persons of middle and higher class to be something superior in merit and their life-styles better. This leads to even greater alienation from their families and neighbourhood on pursuing education for a longer time. A child of Dom community may not find any value or activity held important so far before joining the school finding place in the curriculum. Hence, after education they adopt the life-styles of middle and higher class society and are not able to contribute much to their society. They don’t develop proper self-concept of themselves and their neighbourhhood. Their self-confidence starts waning and they remain diffident throughout their lives. This is one of the reasons of lack of self-confidence among educated lower class. One of the serious challenges of education is to ensure development of confidence so that one may be able to exploit one’s creative potential to the fullest extent.

As British were the authors of the modern education system, they mainly kept it oriented towards government employment to fulfil their needs. Even after independence we have not made much changes in this direction to make it oriented towards people’s actual requirement. So people have confused education as a passport for obtaining jobs-government or otherwise. Government policies have also supported this move. With the introduction of reservation policy in employment we tried to allure poor and downtrodden communities into education for obtaining government jobs. We have taken this to be the awareness for education among downtrodden class. But we are grossly mistaken. People have not adopted education for education sake rather they have adopted it for job sake. One of the recent surveys have shown that the unemployment is growing at a very fast rate among educated people (10.4% among graduates) than uneducated people (0.4% among illiterates). Now that jobs have started shrinking, there is growing disenchantment and frustration among people particularly the downtrodden from the education system.

Hence, there is a need to give a new orientation to the whole approach of education for the downtrodden class. The new education should be competencies based using local contextual matter for elementary learning. Relevant content of learning should base on learning about

  • Self
  • Family
  • Neighbourhood

Gradually, it should be able to expand the neighbourhood and go deeper and deeper into self and family as one goes for higher level of education. We may have to study the history and geography of family, village and community before studying about history and geography of the state, country and world. The most unfortunate part of present education system is that although we learn about the history of the country and the world, we don’t have any knowledge about the history and geography of the region in which we live. This leads to a rootless growth of personality. If we want to have proper growth of our society let us first learn about ourselves before we learn about others.

The child develops a vocabulary of local language before joining the school. Why shouldn’t our school teach them reading and writing these known words rather than a new set of words from so-called standard language. If the words are familiar, child is able to concentrate on developing reading and writing skills, so the learning is faster. If the child is asked to write or speak about his experiences encountered during cattle grazing or catching fishes, he would feel more comfortable in writing or speaking. As the child has immense experience in this field, he would pay more attention to develop speaking or writing skills. This way he would have better achievement. It may be argued that if standard vocabulary is not taught, learners may not be able to assimilate in the mainstream of development. It is nobody’s case that standard vocabulary or language should not be taught. As a matter of fact, it must be taught. But, it should be taught gradually. We should start with the local vocabulary with the standard structural grammar and gradually teach them the standard vocabulary.

Similarly, in the case of mathematics a child from a underprivileged community may see her mother counting cowdung cakes in Ganda, but in the school nowhere the mathematics of Ganda is taught. Similarly, if the father is a weaver the mathematics related to weaving has to be taught apart from mathematics related to business and science being taught in the school at present.

In the same way the science teaching has to be linked with the development of sensory organs using local contextual materials. A child from weaving community must learn the science related to the craft of weaving before he learns other aspects of science. Children should be asked to identify and study properties of leaves, plants, crops of the village. They should learn about the implements available in the village before learning to use other equipments.

Empower people for self-employment
Education is fruitless if doesn’t lead to empowerment for better emloyment. In the new world with open economic system most of the people in the country are likely to get jobs through primary and secondary sector employment. Some jobs in services may be available through tertiary sectors supporting primary and secondary sector. Hence, basically people have to be prepared for self-employment.

In the last few decades government have tried to improve the employment scenario by introducing many self-employment schemes for poor and downtrodden sections of society. But this has not achieved required success as the education system is still dominated by the middle class aspiration of procuring a good and decent job. Hence, middle class people are prepared to acquire skills pertaining to competitive examinations for selection in government employment. They are neither trained to acquire skills for self employment nor are they motivated to get self- employed in future. In the emerging employment scenario in which more and more employment would be available in the form of self employment only, education has to prepare people for self-employment and not only for employment. Then, only people would be able to receive maximum benefit from these self-employment schemes.

In this context it would also be important to learn that in the present eduction system, learning is heavily dominated by urban considerations. As a result, the rural children also get attracted towards the urban areas in search of employment. The educated rural people don’t find it to be rewarding to stay in villages for employment. This is not so much because of the low earning potential in villages as the nature of work. Even if they may get better monetary returns in agriculture of cash crops, floriculture or medicinal crops, they would prefer to go to town to get even a small job. There are a large section of society, who may be owners of large chunk of land, but they prefer to seek employment of 4th grade employees. This is not because of poor earning from land, but more because of the prestige attached with the government employment. If this value system has to change, education system must be drastically reoriented.

In the new millennium when we have embarked upon the massive programme for education for all we have to address the question of relevance of education with due seriousness. So far we have thought that uniformity in access to education would basically ensure uniform achievement and thus would lead towards equitable society. But experiences have belied this premise. The education has led to widening in the gap between rich and poor. Now that we are going to have more open economic systems this gap may be further widened leading to serious distortions in society, if the education is not properly reorient to empower people to avail of the new opportunity for improving their condition.

Develop Creative Skills
One of the major concerns in the context of self employment is to ensure development of creative skills of people. In the modern world creativity would be major factor in the distribution of wealth. We have seen that if a Halwai is creative, his sweets are sold even at high prices like hot cakes. Hence, now it is no longer sufficient to produce goods, one should be able to produce goods with a difference To succeed in the self-employment sector we must ensure that our people develop competency pertaining to CREATIVITY, QUALITY PRODUCTION and MANAGERIAL SKILLS. It has been established that creativity can be best developed in conditions where a person has full knowledge of facts. This can be easily done if we develop these skills with local vocations and gradually include other vocations.

In the Mithila region ladies used to paint on walls and floor. When they were asked to paint the same picture on paper, gradually they started producing one of the finest painting, which has established its own name in the world. With the blossoming of their creative skills even illiterate women could produce world class products. It would be interesting to note that the paintings have found place in the most of the important art museums of the world. In Japan there is a gallery dedicated to the paintings of Ganga Devi, an illiterate and deserted women painter of Mithila. These painters have also got maximum national awards. This has also given employment to large number of people. What many art college graduates couldn’t do has been done by the illiterate painters. This gives us a clue that if local art, craft, songs, music, plays, tales, etc. are properly developed and made part of our learning system, we can produce world class performers. Socalled underprivileged having long traditions in these arts and crafts can easily modernise them to use as a special self-employment opportunity.

Need of short duration educational interventions
Education is a long term investment for a family. Middle class is ready to bear the burden of such investment because they are convinced about the better return from such investment in the form of better jobs and high return to the family in future. But with the poor resource-base the lower class parents are not ready to wait for such a long gestation period. For them education must have short gestation period with faster return. For underprivileged and downtrodden we may need to redesign education with short duration interventions throughout life. This would suit their economic conditions and prepare them better for their livelihood.

Decentralise education
We have been following centralised education system. Generally the syllabi is developed at the Government of India or state level. It is presumed that same or similar education would lead to similar achievement. This is a serious misconception. Same set of information or values may not lead to development of similar competence among all. Each child is unique- by birth and also by environment. He is also unique in terms of learning process. Education require provision of conditions in which a child can get opportunity of success. A child cannot get success in an alien condition. A fisherman’s son may get better success, if he is tested for skills based on facts related to fishing and related matters. If he is asked to think of new designs of fishing net or even machines related to those activities, he might be able to generate new ideas. But if he is asked to design a new model of car, he is less likely to succeed. As they are closer to nature, they have better understanding of natural objects than the urban children. Hence, they would can be better innovators in the field of Bio-Sciences, Animal Husbandry, Agri-Sciences, Wildlife, or even technology related to them.

At the elementary level the basic goal of education should be to develop the mental faculty so that the learner can think properly, communicate properly, and transact his daily activity with confidence and perfection. In this the nature of helpful information would definitely come from his family and neighbourhood.

The learners in these backward community being better in kinesthetic intelligence have greater chances of success in the field of Technology. It is really unfortunate that the skills related to technology does not find place in our curriculum even at the stage of high school. We have tried to introduce vocational education at the stage of high school. But they are only preparation for certain vocations. As we have already indicated middle class government job oriented mentality does not allow these educational schemes to be rated very high. Further, these vocational schemes cannot achieve required success, unless we nurture and develop skills related to technology right from the early childhood. In fact, we must give due importance to the development of Kinesthetic intelligence from the elementary level, if we have to succeed in the field of vocational education. This would require development of a different teaching methodology, different evaluation system based on the development of Kinesthetic skills.

Basic Education and other efforts in the past
In this connection it would be important to mention an important historical educational programme. Mahatma Gandhi took a very significant step for reform in the form of Basic Education. This was an education of seven years duration. It was a major effort to develop an indigenous national system of education, which was to meet the needs and aspirations of local people. Basic education was endorsed in the first conference on national education at Wardha in 1937. As Mahatma Gandhi had a great understanding of countryside and its weaker sections of society, he designed the system with the educational needs of rural India.

Main highlights of Basic Education were

  • All round development of child
  • Learning through experience
  • Integration of and correlation between knowledge and work
  • Use of mother tongue as medium of instruction and learning
  • Development of secular national outlook
  • Emphasis not only on mere acquisition of knowledge but also on Character building
  • Syllabus consisted of Language(mother tongue), Mathematics, General Knowledge and crafts

After independence basic education was adopted as national pattern of education. This was, undoubtedly, one of the most significant and appropriate decisions of the time. However, it could not get required support in terms of suitable facilities in school, relevant changes in teachers training and most important of all adequate awareness in people about its relevance and significance.

In Basic Education, Crafts, Painting, etc. were introduced in the curriculum primarily with a view to increase creativity. In fact, it was visualised that creativity should be developed as an additional input, which was mainly useful in the art, crafts and music. As the education system adopted subject based approach, the creative skills were thought to be only related to the items, which are performed with hands. The concept of creativity was extremely restrictive.

The Basic Education failed, because even after independence government continued to be the main employer. So, the requirement of the conditions of entry into jobs were more or less the same as that in the period of British Government. Hence, Basic education, which was based more on the concept of self-employment, could not have gathered enough support. People wanted to have a taste of government jobs, as it gave them a pleasure of a ruling class. It failed because it didnot suit the aspirations of the middle class which wanted to develop only intellectual capacity and was not at all interested in the manual work. In fact, it degraded manual work and thus dubbed basic education as second rate education.

There is need to have a relook at the scheme once again. It may give vital clues for the education of underprivileged.

Government had started several non formal education programme to take care of educational needs of different kinds of children. Many organisations have tried such programmes in urban slums or with child labour rehabilitation centres. However, generally they all stuck to the syllabi and curricula used in formal schools with flexible timing or management of education. This has been one of the major reasons for their lack of success up to desired level. If we want to succeed with those groups, we must try to find out the special traits of each such group and design our syllabi and curricula to suit their special needs. We must provide opportunity for success in their own fields of strength and try to make up their areas of weakness. Non formal education programmes should be designed as an effective intervention to take care of the special needs not only in terms of flexible timing and management but should also include syllabi and curricula as per special needs of the group. For a group of learners comprising of child labour working in wayside hotels, we should not try to remove them from their present job and try to impart stale primary education. Rather it would be better, if we build upon the service feeling of the child, teach them basic literacy skills in such a way that it develops skills which can help them in becoming a better person and better worker. It may require different competencies of Mathematics, Language and Science than is being taught in our schools.

We have a large number of a large number of children working as servants in different families. Despite various legislations we have not been able to contain them. Given the present level of economy, it would be rather difficult to take them out. So another approach may be worth trying. Why not develop their skills into those of a good house manager. It would require basic mathematics pertaining to household management, kitchen management, assessment of requirements of different members of family, management of household chores like marketing, sending mail, depositing bills at bank and telephone offices, etc. If elementary education can take care of this specific requirement of the group, it would help them in performing better in the present jobs and would have better bargaining power.

In early 90’s a unique experiment was tried in Bihar in the form of CHARWAHA VIDYALAYA. More than hundred agricultural farms were converted into such schools. This was a school meant for cattle rearers. Learners were expected to learn at school while their cattles grazed in the field. This was an innovative attempt to have separate education for a well defined target group. It could not get required success because it used the same curriculum and syllabi as a formal school. There was no effort to incorporate the experiences of cattle rearers into the learning system. There was no attempt to meet his immediate learning needs. There was no attempt to build upon their learning strengths. Even vocational education was included but it was poor extention of short term TRYSEM programme. As we have already indicated earlier, such an approach is not likely to get success. If they are redesigned to have separate teaching learning methodology based on the specific learning needs of cattle rearing children, it is bound to be a big success.

Hence, we must look afresh at the entire scheme of education for Underprivileged and backward community. This would require total decentralisation of the management of education with separate scheme of elementary education underprivileged and backwards involving new teaching learning methodology. The new approach may require involvement of community in the development of curricula and syllabi, selection of learning facilitators, transaction of learning programme, and development of physical infrastructure. It would require study of the learning needs and learning styles of the children of the area. The new scheme should try to build upon the experiential learning acquired by the children in early childhood. It should try to emphasize the significant, important and creative role of the families and the community of the area and should lead to capabilities leading to self-employment. This should be so designed that each learner may develop respect for self, family and community. Love for oneself, family and neighbourhood is the base on which entire structure of patriotism can be built.

One may think that separate scheme of education for underprivileged would make them inferior citizens. This apprehension is not correct. This is basically an attempt to make education relevant, which is the essence of quality education. Further, it doesn’t deny opportunity of acquiring higher education being pursued in the present formal education, but makes necessary correction in the syllabi, curriculum and teaching methodology so that people may be able develop their inherent qualities in a better way. At higher level all streams must unite. This would facilitate exceptional children to pursue education for higher learning.

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