Monday, September 22, 2008

Dismal schooling in Rajasthan

In the Sunday Magazine of The Hindu, yet another depressing article on primary schooling in India. Filmmaker Umesh Aggarwal's new film "Divided Colours of a Nation" takes us, as Kalpana Sharma tells us,

to a rural school in Barmer, Rajasthan. There are just two teachers for five classes. One of them is also the principal. On the day the filmmaker goes to the school, neither of the two teachers is present and only 25 out of the 188 students are at school. Not far away in a Bhil village, he goes to a government school. There are 90 students in Standards I to V but only one teacher. Yet another school on the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan is deserted at 12.30 p.m. There are no children and the only teacher has been missing for eight days. Little wonder then that 50 per cent of students in Rajasthan have failed the Standard 10 examination in the last 10 years.

While this is the situation in distant villages, things were not very different in a government school not far from the national capital. Here, there were 18 classes, but nine had no teachers. Half way through the term, the children still had not received their textbooks.

I wonder what language the Bhil children were being taught in. Probably Rajasthani (or one of the langauges of that cluster). Almost certainly, the medium of instruction was not Bhili - or any of the related languages of the Bhil language group. The 2001 census tells us that there are 9.58 million speakers of Bhili. And Ethnologue reports: "Literacy rate in first language: 1% to 5%. Literacy rate in second language: 10%."

No comments: