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“Equal and Free Education”On the eve of Savitri Bai Phule Jayanthi

Education of Dalits in general and dalit girl children in particular is not just important but an absolute pre-condition in any strategy for achieving the equity, self-respect, freedom from violence and ultimate liberation.  Only, education can transform and uplift the Dalits and dalit girls from the laborer/dependent status to  an enlightened, earning, entrepreneur or officer status.  During the past 75 years after independence only the dominant castes cornered more than 90% of all respectful/powerful posts in bureaucracy and political arena.  The trade, industrial, mining, manufacturing and other sectors also are grabbed only by the dominant castes thereby denying Dalits and dalit women their due share in natural, economic and political resources.  DSS has been facilitating dalit women empowerment and as part of its strategies DSS has been addressing all incidents of violation of rights of dalit/Adivasi women and girl children for the past 16 years.  Alongside addressing human rights violations, DSS has always been concentrating on the quality education of dalit girl children.    Even today, dalit/Adivasi girl children have no access to quality education due to poverty, illiteracy of parents and other causes.  Only option available for the dalit/Adivasi children is to join in government educational institutions where there is no quality.  Quality education is available in private sector only, thereby equality of opportunity is denied to dalit/Adivasi children in the field of education.  This is creating vast gap between these marginalized sections and rich people. Dalit/Adivasi children in this situation cannot pursue higher education in IITs, IIMs, Medical, Software courses, thereby unable to acquire high profile jobs, occupations.  The denial of equitable share of these sections is thus perpetuated.  Dalit and other marginalized sections and all democratic minded people should be sensitized on this unequal treatment and perpetuation of inequality.  This inequality can be resolved only if the government takes away the entire education from private actors and provides free and equal education to all at all levels.  DSS has been propagating this theme continuously and sensitizing all concerned about the urgency of providing free education.  As part of this understanding, DSS celebrates every year, the birth anniversary of Savitri Bhai Phule who dedicated her life for the education of the downtrodden and women. This year, Dalit Sthree Sakthi conducted a conference on the topic “Equal and Free Education” on the eve of Savithri Bai Phule Birth Anniversary.


The conference was chaired by Jhansi Geddam, National Convenor, Dalit Sthree Sakthi. Prof. Padmaja Shaw, Retd. Professor of Journalism, OU, Prof. Rekha, EFLU, Shri. Sajaya, Social Activist, Shri. Khaleda Parveen, Social Activist, Aruna Dasari, Suharlatha, Industrialists, Jhansi from PoW, Shri. Venkat Reddy from MVF, Narasinga Rao from National SC, ST Federation, Kantha Buddha, President, Maitri Mahila Sangh and Dr. Sneha and Shri. Arshia participated and spoke on the occasion.

Jhansi Geddam pointed out that Savithri Bai Phule was the first teacher in India and she grasped the need for education for social transformation more than 100 years ago and put all efforts in educating the down trodden women.  She completed her task facing all sorts of hurdles and attacks. Even though Savithri Bai Phule stands atop of all social reformers, she is not recognized to the extent she deserves due to patriarchal ideology.   Jhansi Geddam asserted that free and equal education is a fundamental right of all citizens and everyone should strive to achieve this goal.  She said, it is unfortunate that the governments in power have been neglecting education and educational institutions.

Prof. Padmaja Shaw pointed out there are many ills in the present-day society and condemned the

social outlook of looking at the women as objects. She commented that society is moving backward towards rotten Manu dharma sastra.  Governments are neglecting government schools and encouraging private educational institutions. Progressive organizations should concentrate on struggling for the rights of the downtrodden.

 


Shri. Khaleda Parveen said that in the society there are many vicious ideologies which have been programmed into our minds and cautioned everyone to understand and liberate themselves from wicked ideologies. All women should continuously meet and turn into a united force so that they can fight against discrimination collectively. All women should support and encourage each other.

 

Shri Venkata Reddy, National Coordinator, MVF appreciated the DSS team and spoke about the present situation of schools and students. He expressed the view that classrooms should be

transformed into children’s friendly classrooms. He wished that it that the teachers in our society should emulate the commitment of Savithri Bai.   He pointed out the school teachers in our society at present are not treating the children of villages and slums with love and affection.  Entire education system should be democratized and revamped as per the values of the Constitution so that the downtrodden, village and slum children are provided equal opportunities in education.


Sajaya in her speech narrated the problems faced by Savitri Bai during her.  She admired Savitri

Bhai for her daring work in educating the lower castes children, despite strong social prohibition of educating the lower castes.   Now, we don’t have that type of problem.   Savitri Bhai had to work in a disapproving society, thereby she planted the seed which grew into a big tree now and bearing fruits.  Now a days there is no bar to educated lower castes and no one can dare to talk in terms of denial of education to low castes.  This situation is the result of work done by Savitri Bhai and now so we should also plant such seeds. There should be no limitations to be empower and we should all follow her path.


Shri. Aruna Dasari, being an industrialist, explained the various schemes and hurdles to be faced by

women in the industrial sector. She outlined the available opportunities and called upon the women to transform themselves into industrialists by grabbing the available opportunities. She said that women should progress ahead towards the society dreamt by Savithri Bai Phule. She also explained her personal story from childhood to successful Industrialist. 


Prof. Rekha narrated that there was one woman by name Fathima Shaik, who supported Savithri Bai Phule despite all the odds. She goaded the women to liberate themselves from the outmoded traditions and concentrate on reading books and educating the children.  Savitribai Phule’s husband Jyotiba Phule supported in every struggle faced by her in the society, likewise in our society also men should support women upliftment.

M Narasinga Rao appreciated Dalit Sthree Sakthi’s work. We need to know the difference between

Manusmruti and Constitution. Our lives must come out of slavery and out of fear.  It is necessary to learn about the life and work of Savitri Bhai and emulate her for leading a purposeful life.

 

Jhansi, pow explained that 200 years ago Savitribai Phule thought for the

equality of men and women.  she educated many women. We should demand that the government should celebrate such a great majesty's day as National Teacher's Day.  Now what will our government do to alienate the lands set up for single women and orphan children. We all should agitate for equal and free education.

 

Dr Suharlatha called upon dalit woman to be educated and achieve economic independence and

said that no crime can be committed on economically advanced women. She said, it is necessary for all of us to know various schemes of the government and utilize them. We should do continuous struggle for women's rights and Human rights.


Dr Sneha explained that Savitribai Phule and Jyotiba Phule have done many good works. Education means knowing what is wrong and what is right.   At present, all the government systems are becoming weak.  She commented that no one is caring the beneficiaries as they are poor. She reminded the women about the call of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to be knowledgeable and live with self-respect.

Shri Arshia said that Savithri Bai Phule was a prominent educationalist, poet and social reformer. She worked very hard to abolish caste and other forms of discrimination.  She propagated for an

equitable social system encompassing all fields of living like politics, economics, legislations, Science, Humanism, Health and every other aspect. We should strive for a system which makes no discrimination on the basis of race, color, language or other extraneous factors. Younger generation must know their human rights-based economy which can break the cycles of poverty.  No country can progress if its people are denied educational and economic empowerment. 


Kantha said that Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitri Bai Phule both were the great social, educational and religious revolutionists. Savitri Bai Phule was not only the first trained teacher she also opened Mahila Seva Mandal to help the women for their upliftment. She was a great poet and she published her collection of poems in the name of Kavya Phule.     

Shri. Bhagya Lakshmi, Telangana State Coordinator of Dalit Sthree Sakthi thanked everyone for attending the conference and making it a grand success.




Representatives of various organizations and leaders of women collectives of DSS actively participated in the conference.

 


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