Madhya Pradesh schools haven’t been able to shake off caste tags

Madhya Pradesh schools haven’t been able to shake off caste tags

Oct 20, 2020

BHOPAL: In the caste-ridden backward land of Bundelkhand in MP’s Chhattarpur district, even the names of government schools are based on caste and creed of local villagers.

For years, parents and children have been pursuing the local administration to change the names of the schools but in vain. Government sources said the general administration department (GAD) and education department issued orders four times in the last 16 years — 2004, twice in 2014 and then in 2017 — to rechristen the schools, but the orders were never implemented.

TOI isn’t mentioning the schools that have names that could be seen as casteist insults. In fact, uttering these words would lead to prosecution under SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, but they find pride of place on school signboards. Prosposal to change names to be sent again. There are others named after professions — Dhimarpur (after a fishing community) — and areas — ‘distillery’ and ‘garbage dump’.

A school established in 1998 is named ‘Shaskiya Prathmik Shala Kachiyanapurva Ghoora’, which translates to ‘Government Primary School Garbage Dump’. A village in Naugaon tehsil is named ‘Shaskiya Prathmik Shala Distillery Area’ (Government Primary School Distillery Area).

Majority of the school names are linked to Scheduled Castes, say locals. Amar Singh Rai, district president of the education department’s employees’ association, said, “It would be better if they are renamed after freedom fighters or great personalities of the country.”

Radheshyam Sharma, a senior citizen of Naugaon, said, “Think of the student whose marksheet says ‘Distillery’.”

A large section of the SC community in the region wants the names of even villages and localities changed from their casteist connotations. “Let’s first change these names which identify people. When Bombay can be Mumbai, why can’t these villages and mohallas be renamed,” said Sharma.

District education officer S K Sharma said, “We will again send a proposal to change these names. At the moment the model code of conduct is in force. Once the elections are over, we will send a proposal.” Sources said the earlier four orders to change names of schools were applicable for the entire state.

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