Dr. V.K. Maheshwari, Former Principal
K.L.D.A.V (P.G) College, Roorkee, India
It is widely acknowledged that education has an important role to achieve a greater degree of social justice. The educational institutions are expected to equip children to the best of their ability for securing a meaningful place in society and thus fostering a process of developing an egalitarian society. However, a large number of children are still excluded from the educational system and hence cannot participate meaningfully in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities.
Meaning of Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
The concept of Deprived/ Marginalized Groups is generally used to analyse socioeconomic, political, and cultural spheres, where disadvantaged people struggle to gain access to resources and full participation in social life. In other words, marginalized people might be socially, economically, politically and legally ignored, excluded, or neglected, and, therefore vulnerable. Marginality’ is demeaning, for economic well-being, for human dignity, as well as for physical security.
Marginalization/deprived is generally described as the overt actions or tendencies of human societies, where people who they perceive to be undesirable or without useful function are excluded, i.e., marginalized. The people who are Deprived/ Marginalized are outside the existing systems of protection and integration. This limits their opportunities and means for survival.
Nature of Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
Marginalization - [mahr-juh-nl-ahyz] is, to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power. Deprived/ marginalized is a multidimensional, multi-causal, historical phenomenon. To relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge, as of social standing. There are no general laws to understand and comprehend the complex nature of marginalization. Marginalization can be due to class, in relation to specific social, cultural, economic and political conditions, as well as ideological systems, social awareness, and human action.
Deprived/ Marginalized Groups vary in different settings. The religious, ecological system, patriarchy, political economy of a country, and the overall social system have an impact on the marginalization of specific groups or an individual.
Deprived/ Marginalized also varies from culture to culture. This can be seen in relation to elderly people living in different countries and cultures. The strong and supportive traditional family system in some cultures often provides better respect and care to elders than the public aided system available in others.
Level of awareness among the marginalized groups plays very important role. Organized communities which are aware of their rights, demand more justice than unorganized communities. This also depends upon the support of the political-economic system of the country where they live in. Democratic institutions are favourable for most of the disadvantaged groups.
Deprived/ Marginalized Groups happen simultaneously at the micro and macro levels. Deprived/ Marginalized Groups occurs at different levels, i.e., individual, group, community, and global. Discrimination across different social institutions, such as family, schools and neighbourhood, at work places, or places of worship. Many communities, a result of colonization, experience marginalization such as aboriginals, or women too face discrimination. Globalization too has increased the gap between rich and poor nations. The influx of capitalism, information technology, company outsourcing, job insecurity, and the widening gap between the rich and the poor, impacts the lives of individuals and groups in many capacities.
Types of Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
Marginalization at the individual level results in an individual’s exclusion from meaningful participation in society.
Some broad types of Deprived/ Marginalized Groups such as social, economic, and political have been identified.
i) Socially Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
Social marginalisation is a process of social rupture or destruction, in which groups as well as individuals alike become detached from various types of social functions and relations. This generally prevents these people from functioning in the so called normal activities within a society. The individual is forced into a new system of rules while facing social stigma and stereotypes from the dominant group in society. Socially marginalized people are largely deprived of social opportunities. There are those born into marginal groupings e.g., lower castes in India, or members of ethnic groups suffer discrimination. This marginality is typically for life. They lack the required social and cultural capital to participate in mainstream development processes. Their social networks are weak and vulnerable. They are deprived of access to resources, such as, economic, educational, cultural, and other support systems. This creates social isolation and limits their participation in the development process.
ii) Economically Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
Economic marginalization” means being unimportant to the economy. Some individuals or groups can be marginalized from the rest of the economy. The sources and amount of their income varies. Poverty and economic marginalization have both direct and indirect impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
iii) Politically Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
Political marginalization does not allow the group to participate democratically in decision making, and, hence, they lose their right to every social, economic, and political benefit. In every society, lack of political empowerment affects large sections of people, including women, ethnic minorities, migrants, and disabled persons, elderly.
Reasons responsible for Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
Some of the important factors that are responsible for marginalization are exclusion, globalization, displacement, and disaster both natural, and manmade.
i) Exclusion: Marginalization is a process that denies opportunities and outcomes to ‘those ‘living on the margins’, while enhancing the opportunities and outcomes for those who are ‘at the centre’. Deprived/ Marginalized combines discrimination and social exclusion. It offends human dignity, and it denies human rights. Caste and class prejudice, in many societies across the globe, exclude many groups and communities, and hinder their active participation in economic and social development.
ii) Globalization: Globalization has increased openness which has promoted development at the cost of equity. It is viewed that globalization has enhanced the gap between haves and have-nots and thus boosted marginalization. While it is true that some middle income developing countries, as well as the most populous countries, India and China, are gaining out of globalization, yet the impact is not equally universal.
iii) Displacement: The development programmes implemented by the government and increasing construction of development projects consistently displace a massive number of tribal, poor, and weaker sections. This results in marginalization of already marginalized people.
iv) Disasters- Natural and Unnatural: Disasters are a global phenomena and a serious challenge to development. Vulnerability is linked to broader social issues such as poverty, social exclusion, conflict, education, health, gender issues and marginalization.
Classifications of disasters.
Natural: earthquake, volcanic eruption, hurricane, tornado, ice storm, flood, landslide, wildfire, insect infestation, and disease outbreaks.
Manmade: Can be associated with technological advances, i.e., explosives, unexploded ordinance, toxic spills, emissions of radioisotopes, and transportation accidents. It also includes incidents involving hazardous materials such as carcinogens, mutagens, or heavy metals. Dangers are posed by structural failure of devices and machines or installations, and plants, such as bridges, dams, mines, power plants, pipelines, high rise buildings, vehicles, and trains.
Social: These include incidents primarily involving social unrest, such as hijacking, riots, demonstrations, crowd rushes, and stampedes, terrorist incidents, as well as bombings, shootings, and hostage taking.
Most vulnerable Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
Some of the most vulnerable marginalized groups in almost every society are:
i) Women: Under different economic conditions, and under the influence of specific historical, cultural, legal and religious factors, marginalization of women can be seen from their exclusion from certain jobs and occupations. Women belonging to lower classes, lower castes, illiterate, and the poorest region have been marginalized more than their better off counterparts.
ii) People with Disabilities: People with disabilities have had to battle against centuries of biased assumptions, harmful stereotypes, and irrational fears. The stigmatization of disability resulted in the social and economic marginalization of generations with disabilities, and thus has left people with disabilities in a severe state of impoverishment for centuries.
iii) Elderly: Being past middle age and approaching old age; rather old. S Ageing is an inevitable and inexorable process in life. For most nations, regardless of their geographic location or developmental stage, the 80 year olds, or over-age group is growing faster than any younger segment of the older population. Elderly women form the majority of marginalized groups among them.
iv) Ethnic minority: – a group that has different national or cultural traditions from the majority of the population the term, ethnic minority, refers to marginalised people of the same race or nationality who share a distinctive culture. A minority is a sociological group that does not constitute a politically dominant voting majority of the total population of a given society. It may include any group that is subnormal with respect to a dominant group, in terms of social status, education, employment, wealth, and political power. Every large society contains ethnic minorities. They may be migrant, indigenous or landless nomadic communities, or religious minorities that have a different faith from the majority.
v) Caste Groups: The caste system is a strict hierarchical social system based on underlying notions of purity and pollution. Brahmins are on the top of the hierarchy and Shudras or Dalits orthe Scheduled Castes constitute the bottom of the hierarchy. The marginalization of Dalits influences all spheres of their life, violating basic human rights such as civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights. Literacy rates, purchasing power and poor housing conditions among Dalits are very low. Physical segregation of their settlements is common. However, in recent years due to affirmative action and legal protection, the intensity of caste-based marginalization is reducing.
vi) Tribes: In India, the population of Scheduled Tribes is around 84.3 million and is considered to be socially and economically disadvantaged group. They are mainly landless with little control over resources such as land, forest and water. They constitute agricultural, casual, plantation and industrial labourers. This has resulted in poverty, low levels of education and poor access to health care services. In the Indian context the marginalized are categorized as the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, denoted tribes, nomadic tribes, and other backward classes.
Problems Related to Education for Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
The challenge of poverty associated with disability: With an estimated 1,027 million people, India is the world’s second most populated country. It has 17 percent of the global population and 20 percent of the world’s out-of-school children. Despite impressive gains in the last few decades India still has more than 260 million people living in poverty. A large number of children with disabilities live in families with income significantly below the poverty level. While disability causes poverty, it is also possible that in a country like India, poverty causes disability. The combination of poverty and disability results in a condition of “simultaneous deprivation. This is a syndrome that sets up barriers to the participation of persons with disabilities in the normal routines and activities of the community, including regular schooling.
The challenge of modifying deeply held attitudes: Attitudes of the non-disabled are proving to be a major barrier in the social integration of persons with disabilities. “The more severe and visible the deformity is, the greater is the fear of contagion, hence the attitudes of aversion and segregation towards the crippled”. Such attitudes reinforced by religious institutions may militate against any attempts to include students with disabilities into regular schools. For example, Hindus believe that disability is a consequence of misdeeds performed in the previous life (often referred to as the doctrine of Karma. Any attempts to improve the life of a person with a disability may be considered a “defiance of the wills of Allah or as interference with a person’s karma”
Dissemination and public education: People, including parents and school personnel, are largely unaware of the full intent of the recent legislation passed by Indian Parliament. A large number of school personnel are also not aware of funding available to include students with disabilities in regular schools. There is some evidence that those educators who are knowledgeable about government policies and laws concerning integrated education tend to have positive attitudes toward implementing such programs. There is also evidence when parents are knowledgeable and supportive of integrated education; they tend to have a positive effect on school personnel. Thus, unless people, especially parents of children with disabilities and school personnel, are made knowledgeable about the various provisions enshrined in the Act, the Central and State governments’ commitment to providing integrated education will be in vain. Although some attempts are being made to disseminate information about the Persons with Disabilities Act to parents, to government officials and non government organizations, they have been extremely limited in coverage.
The challenge of providing adequate levels of training to key stakeholders: The majority of school personnel in India are not trained to design and implement educational programs for students with disabilities in regular schools. Most teacher training programs in India do not have a unit on Disability Studies. The universities, which do cover some aspects of special education in their teacher training programs, fail to train teachers adequately to work in integrated settings
Inadequate resources: The majority of schools in India are poorly designed and few are equipped to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities. The lack of disability friendly transportation services and accessible buildings are considered by some to be far greater problems than social prejudice and negative attitudes. Both the Central and State governments will have to provide increased resources to this aspect of education to ensure successful implementation of integrated practices in schools.
Education of the Marginalized Deprived/ Marginalized Groups in the Indian Context
The Education Commission 1964-66 in its report stressed on the equalization of educational opportunity. One of the most important objectives of education is to equalize opportunity enabling the marginalized, backward or the underprivileged classes to use education for improvement of their conditions. Policies on education 1968, 1986 and 1992 all stressed upon speedy action for the promotion education of the deprived sections of the society.
Mainstreaming the Marginalized. Deprived/ Marginalized Groups
Mainstreaming is the process, to integrate (a student with special needs) into regular school classes. To incorporate into a prevailing group. The prevailing current of thought, influence, or activity. Representing the prevalent attitudes, values, and practices of a society or group.
Efforts have been made to reach education to all. However, there is wastage and stagnation in education. There are economic, social and educational causes that hinder the education of children coming from lower strata of society.
Incentives to families to send their children regularly to schools till they reach the age of 14.
Pre-metric scholarships for all children regardless of incomes.
Constant micro planning and verification to ensure enrolment, retention and successful completion of courses.
Remedial measures to better their chances for further education and employment.
Recruitment of teachers from scheduled castes.
Provision of hostel facilities.
Location of school buildings, balwadis, and adult education centres to facilitate participation especially in rural areas, hill and desert districts or remote and inaccessible areas.
Priority given to opening schools in tribal areas with help of tribal welfare schemes.
Developing curricula and instructional materials in tribal languages with facility to switch to regional language. Also
The curricula in the states to depict rich cultural identity of the tribal people.
Teacher training to tribal youth with assured employment.
Residential schools including ashram schools, anganwadis, non formal and adult education centres to open on priority basis.
Incentive schemes, scholarships for higher education with emphasis on technical, professional and Para-professional courses.
Remedial programmes to help overcome psycho-social impediments.
The marginalized/deprived groups existing in society have historically suffered deprivation in all walks of life in general and in education in particular. Efforts have been made towards economic, social and educational progress of the marginalized people of India. The examination reforms have been suggested right from the time of independence by various committees set up for the purpose There is great diversity in the population and the government of India has passed regulations with respect to inclusion of all irrespective of any kind of disability. There are efforts to provide equal opportunities and inclusion of all in the process of education.
Not only are we aware of the vital role that education plays in counteracting disadvantages over which people have little control, but also its important role in shaping their opportunities for education and wider life chances.
Protecting the rights of, marginalised and vulnerable persons is probably the most overlooked and disregarded area of human rights law. Marginalised groups are generally marginalised by society, making them easy to ignore. Since they only ever represent a small percentage of the population they lack the critical mass that is often needed to successfully assert human rights claims. Furthermore marginalised themselves are often antagonistic towards each other.
There is a need to draw attention to unacceptable levels of education inequality across countries and between groups