Sunday, December 3, 2023

Muslim students join ‘Dalits only’ Kerala school, break caste barriers and effect difference

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The newly born teacher’s organization named Kerala School Teachers Movement (KSTM) which is affiliated to the Welfare Party of India has made history in Kerala through their fight against caste and untouchability.

A mission named Operation Rohith Vemula was carried out by the organization in Government Welfare LP School Perambra, Kozhikode where untouchability still exists. For about three decades, only the students from the oppressed caste community called Sambava ( Forty Scheduled Caste (SC) Sambava or Paraya) is studying in the school. Sometimes, one or two students from other communities joined the school but they didn’t sit with the Sambava students. Even though the government and various social organizations tried their best, no parents or teachers were ready to support the school. As this is a blatant portrayal of untouchability in modern Kerala, the minister and the district collector Moina along with other officials visited the area and conducted a lot of meetings but all those efforts failed.

The school has become a “Dalits only” school because other communities in the village have stopped sending their children there. For the last 10 years and despite several attempts, no child from the upper castes has studied there.

Perambra LP school has the best facilities a school can offer. However, the school that predominantly has students of the Sambava community has been ghettoised much like the larger community in the area. Non Dalits have avoided the school even if it means studying with higher fees and lesser facilities in the aided and private schools nearby. This has been going for many years, with no change in the situation.

As part of the mission the Operation Rohith Vemula, 6 Muslim students along with their parents reached the school and took admission. Rohith Vemula is the Ph.D. student whose institutional murder in the University of Hyderabad led to nationwide protests ad resistance gainst caste system.

6 Muslim students are making a difference, by breaking the segregatory exclusion the school has faced by joining it this year.

The school is situated one kilometer away from Perambra town and is to Perambra Higher Secondary School.  KSTM members brought five of their children to take admission in the school. The teachers and the parents of the students of the school where quite surprised and happy when the admission took place.

Headmaster in charge, T Rajan Master facilitated the admission process. The school authorities and the children along with the parents with the leaders of Uttara Kerala Paraya Sabha welcomed the parents and students with great happiness. Soon the students shared sweets and meals with each other.

The students’ organization Fraternity Movement organized a march and congratulated the students and parents for their historic move. Leaders from Fraternity Movement and other teachers associated with like minded social justice movements have taken the initiative to walk the talk and hope that this step would bring light to the caste walls of Kerala society and make for more inclusive and non discriminatory spaces in education.

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Aslah Kayyalakkath
Aslah Kayyalakkath
Aslah Kayyalakkath is a Founding Editor of Maktoob. He tweets @aslahtweets


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