In the context of student-teacher relationship, the Dalit dimension takes a new form. While, it is one of the most fundamental relationship an individual has and is at the core of the learning process, it often takes an ugly turn. There are several reports of Dalit students being abused by non Dalit teachers. Typically, these teachers do not belong or stay in the same village. As a result of discriminatory treatment, large number of Dalit children are intimidated and drop out of such oppressive school environments, especially in the early stages, leading to high drop out rates.
In order to address the problem, there were directives to employ Dalit teachers. However, such teachers also reported mistreatment not just by fellow teachers but also by parents of the children. There are instances where the children have refused to eat mid day meals prepared by Dailt cooks. There have been instances of abuse and unfortunately, these have not been dealt with the severity such acts deserved. Such actions that indicate part lethargy and part complicity have only eroded the faith of the Dalit students and teachers in the educational system.
It is indeed shameful that the place of education becomes the stage for perpetuating inequity and the student-teacher relationship that is accorded such a high place in Indian society has become subservient to regressive caste practices. Is there a way out of this?