Tamil Nadu

Schools making children wear caste bands face action

These wristbands, which come in shades of red, yellow, green and saffron indicate whether they belong to a ‘lower caste’ or ‘upper caste’ | File

These wristbands, which come in shades of red, yellow, green and saffron indicate whether they belong to a ‘lower caste’ or ‘upper caste’ | File   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

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Senior officials asked to act against the guilty institutions

In an attempt to crack down on schools where children were made to wear wrist bands of various colours to identify their castes, the Director of School Education has directed senior officials to identify such schools and take action against those responsible for the discrimination.

In a recent circular based on a representation by 2018 batch of trainee IAS officers, the Director of School Education said: “All the Chief Educational Officers are requested to take appropriate steps to identify such schools in their district, where such kind of discrimination is practised and to issue suitable instructions to the head masters and prevent such practice immediately and also to take severe action on the persons who are responsible for the discrimination,” the circular stated, which also instructed to send a report containing the action taken in this matter.

A representation given by officers of IAS 2018 stated that some schools in Tamil Nadu, the children were made to wear colour coded wrist bands.

These wristbands, which come in shades of red, yellow, green and saffron indicate whether they belong to a ‘lower caste’ or ‘upper caste’ in addition to this, rings and forehead tilak on the head were used as caste marker.

At anganwadi level

An IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre from 2018 batch told The Hindu that the issue came up during a discussion in Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie earlier this year and his batch of 180 officers had made the representation.

“We handed over the representation in June this year,” the officer said.

Madurai-based social activist ‘Evidence’ Kathir, who has been working for the empowerment of Dalits, said these practices continued in various parts of the State.

“The discrimination starts in these schools from anganwadi. In anganwadis of some schools, non-Dalit children are allowed to bring separate vessels from home. Discrimination differs through the years of their education,” he said.

In some cases, Mr. Kathir said, children wear singlets with the portrait of caste leaders, inside their uniforms.

“In Coimbatore district near Pollachi, a teacher called Dalit students as minuses and non-Dalits as pluses.”

Advocating an increase in the number of schools for children from Adi Dravidar community, Mr. Kathir said the Goal 4 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals is to ensure quality education before 2030.

“This doesn’t mean only infrastructure but a discrimination-free atmosphere for the children,” he added.

These practices supposedly were being used for sports team selection, reassembling during class and lunch intervals.

Allegedly, these practices were enforced by children themselves and supported by influential caste persons and teachers, said the representation from the IAS officers.

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Printable version | Aug 25, 2019 10:45:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/schools-making-children-wear-caste-bands-face-action/article29038516.ece

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