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Ethnographic Examination of a School

The Indelible Class Identity

How regular schooling unfolds for children should be an important concern in the light of the Right to Education Act, 2009 that makes schooling not just free, but also compulsory. While getting children to school is a central pillar of the state's mandate of promoting social justice and enabling improved opportunities and life-chances for all, the empirical data presented in this article shows how children, identified by their social milieu and even humiliated on that count, can be constrained within the processes and the ethos of learning.

The central premise of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 rightfully asserts that the school should give primary importance to the individual or learner identity of children. However, as this article demonstrates, in the everyday life of a school it is the class identity of the children that determines how schooling shapes up for them.1 After providing the larger backdrop of the study, the article reflects on the everyday interactions that I observed in the school concerned. I found these interactions demeaning in nature as teachers, non-governmental organisation (NGO) volunteers and the headmaster openly identify and stereotype children on the basis of their home lives and the larger milieu in which they live.

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