India should remove all educational barriers for Dalit children, in particular for girls
Human Rights, 12/03/2020
On March 11th, during the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, the Right Livelihood Foundation delivered a statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues. In line with Ruth Manorama’s (2006 RLA laureate) fight, the foundation expressed its concern over the continuing discrimination that Dalit girls face in schools and urged India to remove all barriers to education for Dalit children as well as promptly accepting a visit from the Special Rapporteur.
The Right Livelihood Foundation welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues. We appreciate that this year it was focused on raising awareness on minorities and that cross-cutting issues have been frequently highlighted. As Right Livelihood Award Laureate Ruth Manorama stressed, in India, Dalit women face a triple burden of caste, class and gender. These intersections come alive in everyday experiences of exclusion from educational and professional opportunities.
While the report focuses on the importance of minority languages in education, we would like to stress that for some minority groups, such as the Dalits, it is still a challenge to get an education in any language due to persisting discriminatory practices. Dalit children are often segregated in class and forced to perform manual scavenging activities. More specifically, girls are often made to sweep and clean classrooms and it is estimated that about 75% of them drop out of primary school, despite laws that hold “progressive reservations” for Dalits. This feeds into the very high illiteracy rate among Dalit girls and their subsequent invisibility from the Indian parliament, despite representing 17% of the total population in India. This cycle of discrimination has to end.
We therefore urge the Indian government to remove all barriers to education for Dalit children, in particular for girls and to promptly accept a visit from the Special Rapporteur.