POPULATION, LITERACY AND ENROLLMENT STATUS OF SCHEDULED CASTES IN SCHOOL EDUCATION IN INDIA
- Murali* and Prof. D. Pulla Rao**
Caste system in India is not a new phenomenon, the root of which can be found in the traditional society. Our constitution has offered some social, economic and political safe guards to the depressed sections of the society. The object of the paper is to study the population, literacy and educational status of scheduled castes (SCs) in India. The SC population has increased at a faster rate than the overall population in all the census years except in 2001. According to 2011 census, the SC population has inhabited in all the states except Nagaland, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The literacy rate of SCs increased from 10.27 per cent in 1961 to 66.07 per cent in 2011. After independence, the government of India has taken several steps to improve the educational levels of SCs. Though some progress was made in this direction, yet much work has to be done to remove the educational disparities, which exist even today on various grounds.
In the traditional caste system (Varna Vyavastha), the Indian society has been divided into four groups, known as castes, on the basis of occupations. But, in the modern Indian social system there are two more marginalized caste groups namely, Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
The term SC has a long historical origin. Prior to the year 1935, when the Government of India Act was enacted, the communities suffering from the stigma of untouchability were being referred to as ‘untouchables’ or ‘exterior’ or ‘depressed’ classes or by various caste names most of which were derogatory. They were, in fact, outside the caste (Varna) system. They were external in the sense that they were not allowed to live within the village settlement where people other than these groups of people did live. Naturally they lived outside the village settlement. Mahatma Gandhi termed this caste ‘Harijans’ meaning people of god. They are being deprived socially, economically and politically for generations. Demographically also they constitute a large segment in the society. They are comprised of 14.7, 14.6, 15.7, 16.5, 16.2 and 16.6 per cent of India’s population in 1961, 1971, 1981 1991, 2001 and 2011 Census respectively. As a part of the social and political changes sought to be introduced in 1935 the various castes, which suffered social disabilities, were listed in a Schedule and from that time onwards they came to be described as SCs. After the Constitution of India was enacted, the list of scheduled castes was notified by the President of India in accordance with the provisions of Article 341 of the Constitution. The SCs thus represent constitutionally declared groups of castes or communities with the characteristic of being suffering from ‘untouchability’. In terms of the provisions in Article 341, they have been specified separately in each of State and Union Territory.
- Origin of castes
The institution of caste has survived in India in a far better form than any other country of the world. It is not an isolated phenomenon in the rest of the world. It is found in Egypt, in Polynesia, in Melanesia, in Fiji, in Somalia, in Rwanda and in many other countries. In ancient Greece and Rome too caste system was noticed in a comparable form. Traces of caste can also be found in Western Asia, China, Japan and America.
A great diversity is found in the composition of the population of India. Variation exists in creeds, customs and colours. These variations among different sections of people have formed a multiple society which is rarely found in the rest of the world. The racial elements in India have been divided into six different parts. These divisions are Negritos, Proto-Australoids (pre-Dravidians), Dravidians (Mediterranean) Roundheads (Branchycephals-Alpenoid), Indo-Aryans (Nordic-Cancasoids) and Mangoloids. Negritos are not found in India. They are generally found in Malaya, the Philippines and in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. In India they are rarely found among the Kadar tribe of the Cochin forest and among the tribes of the Rajmahal Hills, Bihar. They are also found in Burma. A small number of Negritos are found among the Naga tribes living especially in the Assam frontier. Proto-Australoids are aborigines of Australia. They are spread widely all over India.
Dravidians are a branch of the Mediterranean race (Smith) who came to India somewhere from East Africa. They came into India via Arabia and South Persia even before the Stone Age. There still exists a great debate in relation to their place of origin. Roundheads are also outsiders who came to India from the southern steppes of Russia through Iran. Most of the Roundheads settled in the Tamil and Telenga-speaking areas. Indo-Aryans are also outsiders who came to India for more than three thousand years back and settled in Punjab. The Mongolians occupied the higher mountains along the northern fringe of India. The Negritos, Pre-Dravidians, Dravidians, Roundhead, Indo-Aryans and Mongolians constitute the racial elements in the Indian population.
- Constitutional Safeguards for the Development of Weaker Sections
The founding fathers of our Constitution desired to secure justice, social, economic and political, for all citizens. To term “all citizens” obviously included scheduled castes, socially, economically and educationally very backward. The State has been enjoined to secure equality of status and opportunities for all. The following are the some of safeguards for the development of weaker sections.
(i). The abolition of ‘untouchability’ and the forbidding of its practice in any form (A 17);
(ii). The promotion of their educational and economic interests and their protection from social injustice and all forms of exploitation (Art. 46);
(iii). The throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus (Art. 25);
(iv). The removal of any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment, use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public (Art. 15);
(v). The right to practice any profession or carry on any occupation, trade or business (Art. 19);
(vi). The forbidding of any denial of admission to educational institutions maintained by the States or receiving aid out of State funds. (Art. 29);
(vii). The obligation of the State to consider their claims in the making of appointments to public services and reservation for them in case of inadequate representation (Arts. 16 and 335);
(viii). Special representation in Parliament and the State Legislatures for a period of twenty years (Arts. 330, 332 and 334).
(ix). The setting up of advisory councils and separate departments in the State and the appointment of a Special Official at the Centre to promote their welfare and safeguard their interests (Arts. 164, 338 and Fifth Schedule); and
(x). Special provision for the administration and control of schedule and tribal areas (Art. 2 and Fifth and Sixth Schedules).
4. Policies and Programmes
Concerning the provision of education to the disadvantaged sections, the Draft National Policy on Education 1979 expressed its grave concern over the dismal educational conditions of certain disadvantaged sections of the society including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It stated:
“While there has been considerable expansion in all sectors of education in our Country, imbalances and inequalities still persist. Girls, Scheduled Castes and Tribes, landless laborers, backward Classes and urban slum poor generally continue to lag behind in education. Special effort must be made to identify the problems in these cases and to bring all such people into the fold of education”.
The Government of India reviewed the progress of education in 1985 and published a discussion document, and subsequently, formulated the National Policy on Education (NPE). A Programme of Action (POA) too was chalked out in 1986. In these documents, the detailed proposals (NPE-1986) and schemes (POA-1992) to be pursued for the improvement of educational status of Scheduled Castes was given. The relevant statements of the NPE-1986 are given below:
The following measures are initiated to bring the SCs on par with others.
The central focus in SCs educational development is their equalization with the non-SC population at all stages and levels of education, in all areas and in the entire four dimensions-rural male, rural female, urban male and urban female. The measures contemplated for this purpose include:
- Incentives to indigent families to send their children to school regularly till they reach the age of 14;
- Pre-matric scholarship scheme for children of those families engaged in occupations such as scavenging, flaying and tanning to be made applicable from class I onwards. All children of such families, regardless of income, will be covered by this Scheme and time –bound programmes targeted on them will be undertaken;
- Constant micro-planning and verification to ensure that the enrollment, retention and successful completion of courses by SC students do not fall at any stage, and provision of remedial courses to improve their prospects for further education and employment;
- Recruitment of teachers from Scheduled Castes;
- Provision of facilities for SC students in students’ hostels at district headquarters, according to a phased programme;
- Location of school buildings, balwadis and adult education centers in such a way as to facilitate full participation of SCs;
- Utilization of NREP and RLEGP resources so as to make substantial educational facilities available to SCs; and
- Constant innovation in finding new methods to increase the participation of SCs in the educational process.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the centre in its Common Minimum Programme (CMP) promises, among other things, to provide for full equality of opportunity in education and employment for the SCs and concrete action to put these lofty ideals is yet to be undertaken, however. Any programme of action needs to be based on the present status of education among this disadvantaged group. Since SCs lack even the basic education – the school education – the changes in the literacy rates and enrollment rates at primary, upper primary and secondary/senior secondary levels were examined in this paper.
- Population and Literacy Profile of Scheduled Castes in India
The total SC population in 1961 was 64.4 millions which increased to 210.4 millions in 2011, more than two-fold increase, as a result the proportion in overall population has increased from 4.7 per cent in 1961 to 16.6 per cent in 2011, less than two per cent increase. This is because; all through the period the SC population has increased at a faster rate than the overall population except in 2011. The growth rate of SC population during 1961-71 was 2.3 per cent per year, while that of the overall population was 2.2 per cent. In the recent decade 1991-2001, the growth rate of SC population is 1.9 per cent and that of overall population is 2.1 per cent. The growth rate of SC population in the recent decade is less than the growth rate of overall population. The literacy rate of Scheduled Castes has increased from 10.27 per cent in 1961 to 66.07 per cent in 2011. The female literacy rate among scheduled Castes was 41.90 per cent against 66.64 per cent among males in 2011. The disparity is clearly wider than in the case of overall population. This shows that, there is much to be done to bring the literacy rate of Scheduled Castes on par with the overall population.
Table -1: Size and growth rate of Overall and SC population in India: 1961-2011
|Overall Population||Scheduled Castes|
|Growth Rate||% of SC population to total population||Literacy|
Source: 1. Census of India.
- Selected Educational Statistics, MHRD, GOI, New Delhi, 2011
According to 2011 Census, Scheduled Castes inhabited in all the states except Nagaland, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The highest concentration of Scheduled Caste Population is found in the states of Punjab (31.93%), Himachal Pradesh (25.19%), West Bengal (23.02%), Uttar Pradesh (20.69%) and Haryana (20.17%). In Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Pondicherry proportion of SCs population is exactly equal to the national average of 16.2 per cent. The lowest concentration of Scheduled Caste Population is found in the States / UTs of Mizoram (0.11%), Meghalaya (0.58%), Arunachal Pradesh (0.44%), Goa (1.74%) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1.79%).The highest percentage of SC population to the total SC population of the country is reported in Punjab (31.93) followed by Himachal Pradesh (25.19%) and Bihar (7.8%), Andhra Pradesh (7.4%) and Tamil Nadu (7.1%). In fact, more than 57 per cent of total SCs population inhabit in these five states (Table-2).
Table-2: Overall Population and Percentage of Scheduled Castes: 2011 Census
|S.No||India/State/Union Territory||Overall Population||Scheduled Caste Population||Percentage of SC population to overall population|
|1.||Jammu and Kashmir||12,541,302||924,991||7.37|
|25.||Daman and Diu||243,247||6,124||2.51|
|26.||Dadra and Nagar Haveli||343,709||6,186||1.79|
|35.||Andaman and Nicobar Islands||380,581||0||0.00|
Note: 1. India and Manipur figures exclude those of the three sub-divisions, viz., Mao Maram, Paomata and Purul of Senapati district of Manipur as population census 2001 in these three sub-divisions were cancelled due to technical and administrative reasons although a population census was carried out in these sub-division also as per schedule.
Source: Census of India, 2011.
At the district level, there are only 22 districts where SCs population is 30 per cent or more as per the 2001 Census. In majority of the districts (i.e., 273 districts) the concentration of SCs population to the overall population is between 10 to 20 per cent. In Nagaland, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, no SC population is notified. The details of the distribution of districts in terms of concentration of SCs population to the overall population are given in Table-3.
Table-3: Concentration of SC population across Districts in India
|S.No.||Percentage of SC population||No. of Districts|
|2||Less than 1 Per cent||40|
|3||Between 1 and 5 Per cent||52|
|4||Between 5 and 10 Per cent||68|
|5||Between 10 and 15 Per cent||109|
|6||Between 15 and 20 Per cent||164|
|7||Between 20 and 25 Per cent||87|
|8||Between 25 and 30 Per cent||38|
|9||Between 30 and 35 Per cent||22|
Note: Out of 593 districts in India, in 11 districts of Nagaland, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands there is no SC population, as no SC population is notified there.
Source: Compiled from the Census of India, 2011.
(i). State-wise Overall and SC literacy rates in India
State-wise overall and SC literacy rates in India are shown in Table – 4. As per 2011 Census the highest concentration of the total literacy rates of SCs is found in the States / UTs of Diu & Daman (92.56%), Mizoram (92.43%), Kerala (88.73%) etc., where as the lowest literacy rates of SCs was found in Bihar (48.65%), Jharkhand (55.89%), Uttar Pradesh (60.89%) etc.
In the case of overall population the highest literacy rates was recorded in the states of Kerala (94.0%), Mizoram (91.33%), Lakshadweep (91.85%), whereas the lowest literacy rates of overall population was found in Bihar (61.80%), Arunachal Pradesh (65.38%), Jharkhand (66.41%), etc., The literacy rates among the SCs in the States/UTs in the country continued to be lower than the national average. The average literacy rate of SCs in the country (66.07%) is much less than the average literacy rate of overall population in the country (74.04%).
Table – 4: State-wise Overall and SC literacy rates in India: 2011
|Sl. No||States/UTs||Overall Population||Overall Literacy Rate||SC population||SC literacy rate|
|10||Jammu & Kashmir||12,541,302||67.16||924,991||70.16|
|29||Andaman & Nicobar Islands||380,581||86.63||NSC||–|
|31||Dadra & Nagar Haveli||343,709||76.24||6,186||89.42|
|32||Daman & Diu||243,247||87.10||6,124||92.56|
* NSC = No Scheduled Caste notified.
Source: Census of India, 2011.
- Enrollment Status of Scheduled Castes in School Education in India
Article 46 in the Constitution of India has specifically mentioned about the provision of education for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other educationally backward class people. The Government of India has been making continuous efforts to equalize educational opportunities between privileged and disadvantaged sections (i.e., Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) of the society. After independence, the Government of India has taken several steps to strengthen the education of Scheduled Castes. Though overall progress in this direction is satisfactory, yet much work has to be done to remove the educational disparities, which exist even today on various grounds. The progress of school education among scheduled Castes in relation to total population is presented in Table – 5. The enrollment of the students belonging to Scheduled Castes, at the primary stage, is around 15-18 per cent of the total enrollment (both boys and girls) at primary stage for the last two decades. This corresponds to the proportion of their number in the total population of India. But at the upper primary stage, the enrollment of Scheduled Caste children is around 11-15 per cent of the total enrollment at that stage. The situation at the secondary and senior secondary stage is also not satisfactory with the enrollment of Scheduled Caste students being about 10-14 per cent, the girls’ enrollment being still lower. So, the Government need to undertake some special measures to encourage the parents of the Scheduled Caste children to send their daughters to school. The total number of primary schools in India increased from 4.94 lakhs in 1980-81 to 8.47 lakhs in 2014-15, in the case of upper primary schools it has increased from 1.18 lakhs in 1980-81 to 4.296 lakhs in 2014-15 and in the case of secondary/senior secondary schools it has increased from 5.16 in 1980-81 to 15.023 in 2000-01.
Table – 5: No. of Recognized Schools and Enrollment of SC Children by Sex and Level of School Education in India
|Primary||Upper Primary||Secondary / Sr. Secondary|
|(Classes I-V)||(Classes VI-VIII)||(Classes IX-XII)|
|No. of Schools||Total Enrollment||Girls Enrollment||No. of Schools||Total Enrollment||Girls Enrollment||No. of Schools||Total Enrollment||Girls Enrollment|
|1978-79||NA||7926 (16.4)||—||NA||3108 (11.7)||—||NA||2170 (10.3)||—|
|1980-81||4.94||10981 (15.1)||3768 (12.9)||1.18||2223 (11.2)||602
|1985-86||5.29||13921 (16.1)||5194 (14.8)||1.35||3619 (12.9)||1082 (11.3)||6.58||1810 (11.0)||432
|1990-91||5.61||15794 (15.9)||6057 (15.0)||1.51||4160 (12.5)||1413 (11.3)||7.98||2338 (12.2)||635
|1995-96||5.9||17906 (16.3)||7353 (15.5)||1.71||5956 (13.2)||2255 (12.1)||9.93||2940 (11.8)||935
|2000-01||6.39||21195 (18.6)||9136 (18.3)||2.06||6694 (15.6)||2628 (15.0)||12.6||3812 (14.4)||1394 (13.5)|
(Figures in 000)
Note: * The figures within the parentheses indicate the SC enrollment as per cent of the total enrollment at the corresponding stages. The figures for enrollment of girls during the 1978-79 sessions were not available.
Sources: 1. Govt. of India, Education of Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes 1988-89, MHRD, Department of Education, New Delhi, 1993.
- Govt. of India, Selected Educational Statistics 2014-15, Department of Education, MHRD, New Delhi.
(i). State-wise enrollment of SCs in School Education in India
Several studies revealed that educational enrollment of SCs in India is not uniform in all states in the country. There is unequal enrollment and it varies from state to state. The disparities exist not only among states but also between gender and communities in Scheduled Castes. State-wise enrollment of Scheduled Castes in school education showing regional disparities, there is a long gap between developed and backward states as well as smaller and larger sates/Union Territories. The state-wise enrollment or SC students in Primary, Upper Primary and Secondary level of education are presented in Table – 6. The enrollment status of SCs in primary, upper primary and secondary level is unequal among States/UTs in terms of total enrollment of SCs, gender wise as well as at stages of school education. In some states like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Die and Daman have very low or marginal ratio of SC enrollment. It is because of these sates/UTs are predominantly inhabited by tribal population. In some states and UTs enrollment of SC students are higher where the population of SCs is proportionately higher. For example, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Delhi etc. So, as per the above analysis the level of education of SCs is very low and presents a vulnerable scene in the Country.
Table – 6: State-wise enrollment of SCs in Primary, Upper Primary and Secondary Stage: 2011
|States/UTs||Primary||Upper Primary||Secondary/Higher Secondary|
|Jammu & Kashmir||92490||145988||23212|
|Andaman & Nicobar Islands||0||0||0|
|Dadra & Nagar Haveli||928||1361||281|
|Diu & Daman||576||1054||327|
Note: * including Jharkhand. Data of Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal are not available.
Source: Annual Report, MHRD, Government of India, New Delhi, 2011-12.
- Drop-out rate of Scheduled Castes in School education in India
The dropout rte of SCs by sex in primary, elementary and secondary stages are shown in Table – 7. The dropout rates for SC students at primary stage were 49.4 per cent and it was 54.0 per cent in the case of girl students in 1990-91. The total dropout rate of SCs has decreased from 49.4 per cent in 1990-91 to 23.5 per cent in 2011-12 in primary stage. In the case of girls it was decreased from 49.4 per cent in 1990-91 to 24.7 per cent in 2011-12 in primary stage. The rate of total dropouts which was 67.8 per cent in 1990-91, has come down to 40.2 per cent in 2011-12 at elementary stage. In the case of girls it was decreased from 73.2 per cent to 36.4 per cent in 2011-12 at elementary stage. The total dropout rate of SCs was 77.7 per cent in 1990-91 has decreased to 55.3 per cent in 2011-12 in secondary stage. The dropout rate of girls at secondary stage was 83.4 per cent in 1990-91 and it has decreased to 55.6 per cent in 2011-12. The situation seems to be still worse in the case of SC girls in primary, elementary and secondary stages also. The total dropout rate was 40.2 per cent and in the case of girl students’ their dropout rate was 36.4 per cent in elementary stage in 2011-12. And the total dropout rate in secondary state was 55.3 per cent and it was 55.6 per cent in the case of girls, calling for regions concern to set right the things. It is worth noting that the situation seems to be still worse in the case of SC girls than boys in dropout rates in the country in primary, elementary and secondary stage.
Table – 7: Dropout rtes of SCs at Primary, Elementary and Secondary stages in India: 1990 – 91 to 2011-12
|Year||Primary (I-V)||Elementary (I-VIII)||Secondary (IX-X)|
Source: Selected Educational Statistics, MHRD, Government of India, 2011-12.
- Conclusions and Suggestions
Scheduled Castes are being considered to be the lowest in the social hierarchy in India. They were labeled as untouchables, and hence were denied all educational opportunities in the past. Being mostly illiterate, they have been subjected to all kinds of exploitation – social, economic, political and educational. The founding fathers of our Constitution desired to secure justice, social, economic, political and educational, for all citizens. Article 46 of the constitution of India has specifically mentioned about the provision of education of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other educationally backward classes people.
The population of Scheduled Castes increased faster than the overall population of the country in all most all the census except in 2011. The population of Scheduled Castes in India has increased from 64.4 million in 1961 to 201.3 million in 2011. The highest concentration of Scheduled Caste population to overall population in the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and the lowest concentration of Scheduled Caste Population to overall population in the States/UTs of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
In the case of literacy, it has increased from 10.27 per cent in 1961 to 66.07 per cent in 2011 for Scheduled Castes. The highest concentration of the total literacy rate among SCs is found in the states/UTs of Mizoram, Diu and Daman and Kerala whereas the lowest literacy rate was found in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. After independence, the Government of India has implemented so many policies and programmes for improvement of education among Scheduled Castes. The enrollment of the Scheduled Caste students at primary stage is around 15-18 per cent of the total enrollment for the last two decades. In the case of upper primary stage, the enrollment of Scheduled Caste children is around 11-15 per cent of the total enrollment at that stage. At secondary stage, the enrollment of Scheduled Caste students is around only 10-14 per cent. The enrollment of girl child is less than boys in primary, upper primary and also in secondary stage in the case of Scheduled castes. In the case of dropouts the situation seems to be still worse in the case of SC girls than boys in the country in primary, elementary and secondary stage.
Therefore, the above observations justify that the level of education of SCs is very low and present a vulnerable scene in the country. Even after sixty years of independence, those people are struggling to achieve higher level of education. The Constitution of India promises free and compulsory education to these communities and though more than sixty years have passed, yet majority of the SC population are illiterate.
So, the Government needs to undertake some special measures to encourage the Scheduled Castes to send their children especially girl children to schools compulsorily and regularly. The Government should provide attractive financial incentives to enhance the enrollment of the children of scheduled castes even at the primary school stage. Government should set up more schools in the vicinity of Scheduled Caste habitations. Attempts may be made to utilize the services of voluntary agencies by way of helping the students in opening non-formal education centres and pre-primary schools in the Scheduled Caste habitations.
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