India’s first Dalit University to be established in Hyderabad by 2018
The Telangana government has planned to Build India’s first university exclusively for Dalit students – an upgrade on an already thriving set of residential schools and undergraduate institutions meant only for the weaker sections.
- The university is said to be part of the government’s policy of providing education free of cost to students from weaker sections from kindergarten to post-graduation (KG to PG) level.
- The proposal was mooted by a government arm – Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS) which runs nearly 268 residential institutions for Dalit students from Class V to under-graduate level, besides the recently sanctioned 39 non-residential play schools with pre-primary education.
- Once established, it will be the first of its kind university for Dalit students in the country. At present, there are universities exclusively for women and religious minorities but not for weaker sections, though they are given reservations in various state-run universities.
- The objective of establishing an exclusive university for Dalit students is to provide them a comprehensive education, so that they would come out as complete and knowledgeable citizens.
Can such a university do better?
- The last All India Survey on Higher Education three years old reports says that upper-caste teachers represent more than two-thirds of the Indian teachers, while SC/ST teachers represent just 7% and 2% respectively.
- The presence of more teachers from unprivileged backgrounds would foster greater empathy, innovation in pedagogy and curricula, and most vitally, snap the link between academics and caste pride.
- The experience of the historically all-Black universities in the United States has shown that clubbing underprivileged students together doesn’t trigger greater segregation, instead it nurtures talent and confidence in communities that have historically been told they’re unworthy and merit less. This exercise also shouldn’t derail the urgent need for more caste awareness and Dalit empowerment in our universities.
- An all-Dalit university will finally show us that the things that are killing our Dalit students in premier universities – loneliness, isolation, depression – are not disjoint individual things but intrinsically linked to how our campuses are built on caste.
Note 4 Students: Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Amarkantak, M.P. establish through the Act of Parliament in 2007 was India’s first tribal university.