Tribal Education system in J&K

Dr. Javaid Rahi
With  two   amendments,  made by  Parliament, later incorporated  in  the Constitution of India, in the year 1989    and 1991,  twelve  tribal groups from Jammu and Kashmir were declared  ‘Scheduled Tribes’ under article 342 of the Constitution.  After enlistment in STs, the Union Government has granted  special rights  to all of them with a provision of 10 percent reservation in jobs /promotions in J&K State and 7 percent in Central Government run departments. Further, by virtue these  amendments the ST groups of J&K have been made  constitutionally empowered with   entitlement of all rights and benefits available   to  other tribal groups living across in  India.
Population of Tribes
As per the census conducted in the year 2011,  by Govt of India,  the tribal groups together  constitute 11.9 % of the total population of J&K state,  which is 0.14 per cent population of country ,  counting 14,93299 people .But, Gujjars and Bakerwals -the main tribal groups of Jammu and Kashmir -are not stratified with figures of census released by RGI. They   time and again agitated  in public forums and argued that they were not enumerated properly,  as around 6 lakhs nomadic  population were under seasonal migration along with their livestock to upper reaches of north-western Himalayas , when the census held.
Among  the  total tribal population  of State , the Gujjars – Bakerwals together constitute 79.7 % of the total ST population of the state. The Rajouri district which is thickly populated by Gujjars- Bakerwals   is representing the highest proportion of  total  tribal population of State  followed by  Poonch,  Kargil,   Leh and Reasi districts.
As per the schedule of population in census report 2011 , issued by Registrar General of India , the tribal population especially the Gujjars and Bakerwals resides in each district of the state in a sizeable proportion.
Low Literacy rate among tribes
Despite the state government’s continuous efforts to encourage education among the Scheduled Tribes groups , the literacy rates of some of the Tribal communities of Jammu and Kashmir especially the Gujjars and Bakerwals  is extremely low as compared to the national and   state average, as said in census data. The literacy rate in India ,  as per Census 2011,  is 73 percent and  for STs at national level it is 59 percent only .But in J&K, only  50 percent tribals are shown literate. The main reasons of the low literacy among tribes are  poverty, conflict, topography and superstitions. The female literacy rates extremely lower as compared to the national average.
Gujjars at  bottom, Bot of Leh at the top
The census report 2011 revealed the  harsh facts that despite  Government initiatives , the Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes are still at the  bottom of the graph , in terms of their literacy rate,  in comparison with others tribes of state.
Low  Literacy among Gujjars – Bakerwal  women
The Gujjar -Bakrwal women also figures at the bottom in the entire picture, with lowest literacy rate among the Schedule Tribe women of India and the State of J&K. As per figures of Census 2011  they are at the bottom as   82.2% of them are still illiterate only 17.8 are able to read and write to some extent.  Due to lowest figure of literacy a big chunk of Gujjars- Bakerwal women are facing big   brunt of neglect , exploitation , ignorance and suppressions in the general society.
The  literacy rate among  ‘Tribal Women’ at national level is 50.35% and in state  of J&K it is 41.08% only. As per the census data of RGI the women folk  belonging to other tribal  groups are comparatively better in respect of their education , then the Gujjar – Bakerwal women. As per RGI data  41.4% women belonging to Sippi Tribe are literate. Further, 31.52% of Gaddi, 40.79 % of Changpa, 44.71of Brokpa,47.28% of Purigpa , 48.53% Beda,49.79 % Garra, 50.24 Balti,52.32 Moon and  Bot tribe women of Ladakh  is figuring on top with 63 .5 % literacy in J&K.
Issues  and challenges before  Tribal Education
There are multiple reasons of educational backwardness of  tribes of  J&K  especially the migratory tribes like Gujjars and Bakerwals. Some critical issues and problems in the field of tribal education  are as follows:
* Migratory way of life  –Due to tribal way of life  which is based on bi annual seasonal  migration , the Tribes mainly Gujjars , Bakerwals, Gaddi, Sippi and Changpa moves from one place  to another in search of food and fodder , thus their children suffers a lot in term of education.
* Location of Tribal Population  – The hilly and border area locations of  habitation of Tribes creates main hindrance for their  children to attend the schools.
* Economic Condition – The shambling  tribal economy  is also a great  hindrance in  way of tribal education. The tribal and nomadic population usually  engage their  children  to add  human recourse and  labourer   power to run their daily affairs to  supplement the family income.
* Early Marriages  – Due to the strong tradition of early marriages among the  nomads , they do not educate their  children  who fall between the age of 10-18.  This reason is also  adding to percentage of school  dropout among both the tribe which is highest  as compared to other  tribes.
Government Programmes for Tribal Education
Apart from Govt run general schemes and programmes,  the State Government is also focusing on tribal education since 1976-77. They initiated a few  steps for educational developments of tribes mainly Gujjars and Bakerwals but after lapse of round about 40 years  these steps have  proven   ill-conceived,  insufficient and inadequate in view of the requirement of the tribal population .It also lacks proper planning and implementation mechanism.
As per census data 2011 the population of Gujjars and Bakerwals  in J&K is around 11 Lakh with 980654 Gujjars and 113198 Bakarwals  ( Present 13.5 Lakh)  which constitute around 10% percent of total population state. For this huge population of tribes  the State Government runs only 23 Gujjars and Bakerwal Hostels with around 2125 inmates (1600 boys and 625  girls).Presently, there is no school  functional  in J&K under any Scheme of Union Tribal Ministry, though 5 hostels buildings  are under construction at different locations.
In addition to above 175 one man ‘Mobile Primary Schools’  are working  in the State under Education Department to provide education to children of 6-12 age who  mainly belongs to   migratory population of Gujjars and Bakerwals.
Suggestions to revamp tribal education System
A total revamp is required  in Tribal Education System to bring the literacy rate up in  tribal groups especially among Gujjars / Bakerwals and to place them  at par with other tribal groups.
* Identify Schools in the State having more than 60% tribal students and  declare them as Tribal Schools .
* Create Tribal Educational Zones  in the districts,  post special staff and provide adequate facilities to them.
* Establish new residential schools in nomadic and tribal areas where ST population lives temporarily.
* Convert Gujjar / Bakerwal Hostels into residential schools on the Prototype of Central Schools/ Novodaya Vidhalya.
*       Provide in time mid day meal ,  Scholarship /free books/ uniforms to nomadic children.
* Forced Schools should be activated in the areas where tribal are reluctant to send their wards to schools,
* Start special Adult Education Programmes for nomadic elders be started.
* Give special awards to tribal students  for excellence  in the field of Education.
* Constitute a  State level Committee on Tribal Education which can give suggestion/ recommendation  to govt on the issue.
* Conduct broad-based study on  present educational system viz a viz Tribal population to find out  the short comings in the existing system of tribal education.
* Awareness campaign should be stared through Radio, TV and community programmes which will give knowledge to tribes about importance of education.
* Appointment of Local/ community  teachers in Tribal designated schools.
* Some part of Education  should be in their mother tongue.
* Teachers Award  for best results in Tribal areas be started.
The present set up under the leadership of Education Minister Naeem Akhter , is extremely keen to change the entire system , to provide  quality education through Govt run schools. The Tribal Education sector also requires immediate attention of Tribal Minister  Mehbooba Mufti -( Chief Minister) and our  Education Minister,  for its total revamp; “AYE KHANA BAR ANDAZ E CHAMAN KUCH TU IDHER BHI”.
( The author is a Tribal Activist and can be mailed at