NEW DELHI: The National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) is formulating guidelines on how to prevent caste-based violence in schools as part of its campaign of achieving zero discrimination in educational institutions. The NDMJ will submit the recommendations to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment late this month. The NDMJ is a movement of Dalit survivors, defenders and academics which spearheads campaign to end structured violence against minorities.
Last year, the NDMJ submitted its report on Exclusion in Schools: A Study on Practice of Discrimination and Violence to the government in which it monitored atrocities committed against children belonging to minority groups in eight states. The report exposed the dismal ground situation existing in these states when it comes to addressing caste-based violence. The current recommendations aim to promote equality and protection to children from marginalised sections like scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, nomadic, semi-nomadic, and denotified tribes across schools in India.
Till now, there is no dedicated law provision to address identity-based discrimination in schools and colleges in India. The guidelines want to fill this gap and address the everyday discriminatory practices that children from marginalised communities face. The draft has been expanded to address all identity-based atrocities faced by children in schools, hostels, anganwadi, pre-schools institutions and higher educational institutions.
It includes provisions for differently-abled children, religious and ethnic minorities and children with different gender identities and children of marginalised groups like sex workers. The draft comes in the wake of media reports and monitoring of the ground situation in which the NDMJ has received several complaints on structured violence against children belonging to minority groups."We received several cases of discrimination and violence in schools based on caste, ethnicity and religion. These include cases such as children from the Dalit community not being allowed to touch the drinking pot, separate sitting arrangements for them during mid-day meals, kids from dominant caste refusing to eat meals prepared by Dalit cooks and a Dalit girl being thrashed for touching a Brahmin's water jar," said V A Ramesh Nathan , general secretary, NDMJ.
Several discriminatory practices are layered and impacts daily interactions, opportunities, and accessibility to education, safety and equal opportunities, he explained. The guidelines outline there is an immediate need to holding counselling sessions with children on human rights who are involved in practising discriminatory practices against children from lower caste or are differently-abled. The NDMJ is working closely with the state governments and the National Commission For Protection of Child Rights, and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes at the national level for enhancing the guidelines.