Schools breeding hatredtext_fields
Let me start this column by saying that teachers of the likes of Uttar Pradesh’s Tripti Tyagi ought to be not just dismissed but also arrested and jailed. They are ruining- denting- destroying- killing the very psyche of our precious children.
Before this trend picks up, of teachers ruining school children and their lives, teachers with right-wing backgrounds ought to be identified …Yes, this ought to be done, urgently and immediately. In fact, what’s shocking is this fact - last week, a Delhi school teacher attached to a Delhi government-run school, made communal remarks and even after the Muslim students of her class and their parents lodged a complaint against her, seemingly no strong action against her! Why?
Needless for me to focus on the fact that these incidents will leave imprints and carry off-shoots. As it is, the Muslim community in the country is lagging in the education sphere and these blatantly, outrageously communal incidents will only add to this dismal reality!
As I viewed and re-viewed the video of school teacher Tripti Tyagi ordering- provoking children of her class to come up to the centre of the classroom and slap and beat a Muslim child, it seemed so very horrific and communal…I felt unwell. No, I couldn’t sleep the entire night as images of that hapless Muslim student stood out.
What strong action has been taken against the Uttar Pradesh-based teacher, Tripti Tyagi, and also her male colleague, whose voice is coming through in the video though his face is not focused on! Shouldn’t this teacher and her male colleague get arrested and jailed and also dismissed from service. For, if this level of communally surcharged teachers is around, then they would for sure cause massive communal divides right at the junior school level. Instead of teaching ABCD, they are teaching violence, fascism and destructive tactics to young children.
Muslim child: the worst victim
Together with the saffron strains intruding into education, there’s been an ongoing shrinkage of space for the Muslim child in school and even out of it. The already disadvantaged Muslim child is drifting away from the classroom, because of the dismal conditions he faces in schools and also the ongoing vicious communally surcharged atmosphere spreading around.
In the early 90s, Saiyid Hamid, bureaucrat-educationist (former VC of AMU) who had been heading the Hamdard Education Society, told me that during his work on the dismal education scenario for Muslims in north India, he stumbled upon a grim fact: in Bihar, the areas allocated to build schools for Muslim children were converted into police-chowkies and police -thanas! He had detailed several other factors responsible for the Muslim child lagging behind on the education front… such as: "A prime reason is that riot after riot pushes them away from the mainstream and each riot comes as a major setback for the community and leads to the feeling of insecurity. Also, people who set the curriculum in schools and colleges have surreptitiously introduced material derogatory to Islam and this factor scares away the orthodox from formal learning …the government has not bothered to set up schools in or near Muslim-dominated areas . Instead, there are police posts! The majority of Muslims are artisans and small shopkeepers who are tempted to withdraw their children early from school so that they can learn the trade instead of the alphabet… But I would say that riots have a very adverse effect on the Muslim child; and affect him in many ways."
The menace of saffronisation
From the early 90s, the situation stands compounded. There’s saffronization of the very ABCD! Soon after the destruction of the Babri Masjid, I had done a series of writings focusing on the fall-out of that destruction on school-level education . How communal bias hits the Muslim child, keeping him or her away from the school classroom. I had also been focusing on what was happening in the education scene: an increase in communal taunts heaped on the child by teachers and even fellow students and also communal slants in the very teachings.
Many Gujarat pogrom survivors told me they stopped sending their children to school as there was fear of the Hindutva goons attacking their children, on the way to school. And I’d heard similar worries and apprehensions from riot survivors from several other riot-affected locales of the country. Hitting comments! Death of education for the children of the Muslim riot survivors!
The situation gets compounded in locales where Muslim families are forced to get uprooted and flee for their lives. In the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, entire Muslim families became refugees overnight …survivors stuffed in make-shift refugee camps. Mind you, till those Muzaffarnagar riots were ‘made to happen’, a majority of the Muslim children were enrolled in their village schools, but then, the ‘riot manufacturers’ saw to it that education was pulled off from the reach of the Muslims of that area.
Unleashing communalism and a polarized atmosphere affect the Muslim child in more ways than one. In recent years I have been meeting Muslims narrating absolutely horrifying details of why they have had to pull out their children from schools – details ranging from shifting overnight from their ancestral homes and villages/mohalas/qasbahs to getting threatening calls from the land and political mafia brigades, to seeking refuge in unknown terrain.
Also, one should not be under the impression that elitist public schools would be safe for Muslim students. One report after another of harassment faced by Muslim students by school teachers. Let’s not forget the incident of the Kanpur teenage student, Arsh Mohammad. He tried killing himself after his school teachers not just taunted and ridiculed him in front of his fellow students but even ‘searched for a gun’ in his school bag! This happened on the premises of one of the branches of the Delhi Public School(Kanpur).
Today new forms of bullying the Muslim children in schools are coming up, if they are not comfortable singing Vande Mataram, doing Surya Namaskar and reciting Gayatri Mantra.
Do we realize the havoc created on the minority psyche, as Muslim children are even threatened with beatings and humiliation by several school teachers? Mind you, all this is taking place in today’s developed India!