Beti Foundation

Actualizing Growth with Integrity

Research Study on Musahar Population and Child Migration

It is imperative in this era of globalization and transformational change with inclusive growth that Education for All global Compact of Jomtien Conference on Education for All in 1990 is actualized. The tenets of the Rights to Education Act of 2009 and the Millennium Development Goal No.2 (Achieve Universal Primary Education) are seen as pivotal to the fulfilment of all 8 MDG Goals.   While India has made tremendous strides by launching and largely succeeding in meeting the Sarva Shikha Abhiyan’s Goals by reaching and enrolling of more than 90 %, the objectives of simultaneous success in transacting qualitative and equitable education is still evasive.

Musahars are recognised as one of the extremely backward section of Schedule Castes in Uttar Pradesh. The 7,00,000 Musahars in the State occupy not just one of the lowest tiers in caste hierarchy, they are amongst the poorest community as well. This leaves them open to discrimination and repression at all level. Women in particular have to cope both with the tribulation meted out by society at large as well as suffer domestic violence. Traditionally the Musahars of Uttar Pradesh are landless labour and stich leaf plates for local sale. Some other occupations include wage labour in industry, forestry, fishing, pulling handcarts and rickshaws. Working as labourers in brick-kilns, some Musahars are involved in Sericulture and pig rearing too. Extreme poverty and migrating nature of the community deprived them of economical and social advancement including educational development as well. The statement made by a parent clearly indicates pitiable condition of Musahars in the State, “पीने को पानी तक नहीं है। बहुत दूर से लाना पड़ता है। कभी-कभी तो नाली से मल हटाकर पानी पीते हैं। हम लोग इन्सान नहीं हैं क्या? क्यूं मुसहरों को इन्सान नहीं समझा जाता है?”

BETI Foundation has been assigned a study by OXFAM India of primary and upper primary schools, in five districts of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Finanacial support for the study and technical oversight has been provided by Oxfam India. The study has focused on Musahar communities specifically focusing on the educational status of Musahar children including problem and obstacle faced by them in educational advancement. Another aspect and focus of the study was to see how the socio-economic context of Musahar communities influence their educational achievements.

Objectives of the Study

  • To develop a comprehensive understanding of the underlying reasons of educational backwardness. The main aim being to apprise the State of ground realities in this aspect identify strategies for mainstreaming left out segments of Musahar children through focused government efforts.
  • To conduct a Socio-economic analysis for reasons of the poor educational status of Musahar community in the state and providing these insights into the state strategy to strengthen interventions targeting Musahar Children

Expectations from the Study

  • To understand the systemic and structural gaps and issues which exist within the Education System in Uttar Pradesh especially with regard to children from educationally backward castes such as Musahars who still live in primitive conditions.
  • To understand the challenges which exist in schools with students coming from divergent economic and social segments with varying cultural beliefs and life patterns with a special focus on Musahars.
  • To identify challenges and opportunities within the purview of the Right to Education Act 2009 as it impacts on changed School Planning and Management Structures at various levels with the objective of providing Equitable and Qualitative education.  
  • To suggest an advocacy strategy for positively impacting the situation as understood through the defined objectives of Research which this is constrained by time and recourses.
  • To empathetically research and draw insights for recommending positive actions for the Management of schools by mandated School Management Committees (SMC’s) with optimum local community ownership and support- specially focussing on Musahar children and their guardians.

The Research study sample included

  • Five districts of Uttar Pradesh –Jaunpur, Chandauli, Kushinagar, Mahrajganj and Gorakhpur.
  • 6 Primary Schools in one block having the highest Musahar population.
Sl. Name of the District No. of Schools
1. Jaunpur 6
2. Chandauli 6
3. Kushinagar 6
4. Maharajganj 6
5. Gorakhpur 6
  Total 30

Findings of the Study

The findings of the study with regard to education was totally disappointing as was found that Musahar communities have very bare level of education as a whole. However now it is moving in a positive direction, but on a very slow pace. The learning level of Musahar children was found lower than the children of other communities in the same standard. It was also found during the study that Musahar children used to leave the educational stream earlier than other community counterparts. The diagnosis of reason disclosed in this is extreme poverty and migration which are responsible for this low participation. Higher level of illiteracy amongst the parents of Musahar community and their lack of awareness about the importance of education is also mentioned as a reason for their educational backwardness by various stakeholders. The District administration was also named indifference towards making sincere efforts for improving their socio economic status through achieving desired educational levels.

The findings of the study were divided in six major parts for the presentation as mentioned here:

  1. Enrolment.
  2. Attendance.
  3. Educational Practices.
  4. Ground level educational Scenario.
  5. Infrastructural Facilities.
  6. Incentives of Mobilisation.

The status and functioning of SMCs was found to be extremely poor. Persons identified as members were introduced by the teachers and headmasters in the surveyed schools as SMC members. They however themselves do not know that they are part of any such committee which is supposed to take care of the proper functioning of schools. They are quite unaware about their roles and responsibilities as a SMC Member. None of the SMC Member in any of the districts were found even having basic awareness about the RTE Act 2009 under which SMC is formed, neither they were informed by the teachers. Providing opportunity to the Musahar guardinas in the SMC is also very poor and in very few places it was found that they were given chance to be selected as a SMC Member. Musahar people have been included as Member of the SMC in two Primary Schools of district Maharajganj, in one schools of Chandauli district, one school in Kushinagar district, one in Gorakhpur district. No member in SMC has been selected in Jaunpur districts. In places where the Musahar people have been selected in the SMC, they were seen very inactive and taken any interest in school activities. Teachers also do not like to inform Musahar community members about the meeting. Apathy and an inferiority complex pervades among Musahar community. They hesitate to come to school and cannot express their views to the teachers and headmaster/headmistress. The SMC itself provides very few opportunities to Musahar members to express the views.

Mostly teachers have informed the team that meeting of SMC are held regularly but during the discussion with the Member it was found that Meetings do not take place regularly, only the signatures of member are taken from time to time to keep records. Members were also not able to say anything the issues discussed during the Meetings. They were also not able to provide any information about last meeting and nobody remembered the date of the last meeting. SMC Member including teachers were found to be unaware about the Grievance Redressal Committee. All members were never present at the meetings. Only 4 to 6 parents attended the meetings. Teachers do not inform the members about meetings. Only paper work is completed and in place of actual proceeding. Members are called upon and their signatures are taken on the paper. Government presence/Members from the public systems viz; ANM, Accountant, Panchayat members are absent during these meetings and they are inactive

In four schools where Musahar people got position in SMC details are, a Musahar women president in one school, man President in one school, women vice president and men as president in one, and man vice President in one. Reason for non-selection of Musahar people as mentioned by teachers is mainly non awareness and lack of interest of parents of Musahar children.

Conclusion

The proliferation of media and mass communication are having a positive impact on the community and their awareness about education and its importance in life is increasing. Now they have realized that lack of education is also one amongst the major reason for their backwardness. One parent during the FGD has said, “हम लोग अनपढ़ हैं इस कारण आज इस दशा में हैं.” (we are uneducated and hence we are in this condition).