ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ashram Schools: Need for a New Approach

Incidents of rape, sexual abuse, and deaths of children persist in ashram shalas even more than a year after these were reported in these schools. The recurrence of such heinous acts underscores the lawlessness and impunity that prevail within tribal education programmes. A field study conducted in various ashram shalas in Maharashtra, analyses their conditions, and makes recommendations for future improvements.

The present article uses the Maharashtra governments 19 November 2016 resolution as context to outline some of the issues associated with ashram shalas or tribal boarding schools (GR 2016),1 including recurring incidents of rape and sexual abuse of children in these schools. In 2013, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Bombay High Court, highlighting the deaths of 793 children in ashram shalas in the last decade due to snake bites, scorpion bites, fever, and other minor illnesses; these deaths were mainly due to the negligence of staff who did not ensure proper treatment in time. The PIL led to the formation of a high-level committee, headed by Subhash Salunkhe, to recommend corrective measures to prevent student deaths in tribal boarding schools, which include government- and state-aided private institutions. The committee submitted a report in October 2016 that revealed some startling facts. Soon after, in November 2016, the rape and sexual abuse of minor girls at the Nimbaji Korkre ashram shala at Khamgaon in the Buldhana district (Goyal 2016), and the sexual abuse of girls by teachers at a residential school for students from Vimukta Jati (Denotified Tribes) and Nomadic Tribes (VJNT) at Sindphana in Beed district in the Marathwada region, were widely reported in the media. The prevalence of such heinous acts, despite the culprits of the Buldhana incident being brought to justice (Goyal 2016), underscores the lawlessness, and impunity that prevails within tribal education programmes. At present, apart from issues regarding quality of education, the physical security of students at ashram shalas has become a serious concern for the government.

Resolutions, Orders, and Surveys

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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