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Inequality in education system

Context: Aishwarya Reddy’s death points finger at an education system that turns a blind eye to inequality.

Background

  • Recently a young student, Aishwarya Reddy from Lady Shri Ram College, died by suicide.
  • The girl from a poor family took her life due to her inability to buy gadgets required by her to continue her online education.

What factors that pushed her to choose death over life?

  • Digital divide in accessing online education.
  • Delay in giving her the well-deserved scholarship on time by the Department of Science & Technology’s (DST).
  • Lack of knowledge on part of the college administration about its students’ socio-economic backgrounds because of which all students, except the freshers, were asked to leave the hostel premises.
  • The girl’s inability to proactively reach out to those in positions of authority for help.
  • The painful experiences of the daily struggle of her parents, their inability, desperation and frustration to buy her a laptop and the guilt of pushing them to mortgage their house and forcing her younger sister to drop out of school.

What is the most fundamental cause for such student’s suicides?

  • ours is an unequal society and our socio-economic and cultural locations determine the school that we go to and the nature/quality of education that we get.
  • So, most students find it difficult to come out of their vicious cycles of disadvantage, a few resilient ones manage to enter those elite institutions, to which there is limited access.
  • Though they clear, the Children with different caste, class, religion and ethnicity, with unequal economic, social and cultural capital, are all treated alike.
  • For example, syllabus, curricular resources, pedagogic processes, assessment practices are same for everyone, irrespective of the divergent spaces they come from.
  • Though this seems to be equal and neutral is in effect unequal and biased.

What is the way forward?

  • Institutions should take responsibility to make such spaces more democratic and egalitarian.
  • They need to adopt more proactive measures to reach out to their students, especially those belonging to marginalised backgrounds.
  • It is important to recognise that the pressures faced by students such as the pressure to do well academically, pressure to conform and look/dress/talk in a certain way, appreciate a particular kind of music/film etc.
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