Initiate new educational scheme for Gujjars, Bakerwals: Scholars

Excelsior Correspondent

Gujjar students studying in mobile school.
Gujjar students studying in mobile school.

JAMMU, Nov 15: The Government must step in to initiate new educational schemes for schedule tribes (Gujjars and Bakerwals) keeping in view their difficult lifestyle and migratory way of life.
This was stated by a Tribal study group during a programme organized on the topic “Illiteracy—the main cause of backwardness among Gujjars-Bakerwals”, by Tribal Research and Tribal Foundation here today.
They said that both the tribal groups are facing extremely low literacy rates in comparison to other tribes of Jammu and Kashmir and suggested affordable and inclusive education programme for tribal groups.
The scholars stated said that extreme poverty, rough and tough living, early marriage system and Nomadic costumes were causing dark shadows over the future of lakhs of  nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwal children residing in the most backward, hilly and border areas of Jammu and Kashmir and compel them for child labour mostly within their family.
They suggested that ‘Forced Schools” should be opened to educate the nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwal children as most of the parents are not ready to send their kids to schools owing to migratory way of life and low tribal economy.
They said that the Government should start same type of compulsory free education for the children of Ajjhari (Shepherded Gujjars), Manjhi (Cattle rarer Gujjars) as the parents are deliberately denying education to their children and using them as human resource in their day-to-day work.
Dr Javaid Rahi, Secretary of Tribal Foundation in his presidential address said that this is a matter of grave concern that the Government census data of 2011 says that 7 out of every 10 Gujjars and Bakerwals of State are illiterate. He added that this is quite alarming rather distressing. He also flagged the female literacy rate, saying that the Gujjar-Bakerwal woman is worst sufferer with  82.2 per cent illiteracy as said in the data released by Registrar General of India.
Among others, who spoke on the occasion were Choudhary Abdul Ghani Chouhan, Dilawar Chowdhary, Dr Shafiq Kassana, Ameer Din, Khadam Chashti, etc.

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