Centre for World Environmental History

Past Events and Research Seminars

Politics of Adivasi education in India: The evolution (or not?) of tribal education policy

Wednesday 15 February 13:30 until 15:00
Room 1B, Arundel
Speaker: Malvika Gupta, UNESCO consultant, Delhi and Felix Padel, Anthropologist and author
Part of the series: ESW Open Seminar Series

This event is hosted by the Centre for International Education (CIE).

Tens of thousands of tribal children are being sent right now to boarding schools where their experience replicates the ‘stolen generation’ policy of ‘forced assimilation’ imposed in North America and Australia. Tribal policy in India at Independence was meant to be one of ‘integration’, rather than assimilation or ‘isolationism’.

But ‘Ashram’ boarding schools - formed on a model supposedly Gandhian, yet actually the antithesis of Gandhi’s ‘Basic Education’ - were promoted from the 1950s-60s. The world’s largest boarding school at Bhubaneswar currently offers ‘free education’ to 25,000 tribal children, while the Maoist civil war in Adivasi areas in central India has closed down several hundred day-schools.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a small number of alternative schools offer culturally sensitive education. Could this pattern be more widely used, and could the direction of learning be reversed more widely so that mainstream culture starts learning from Adivasis about sustainability and the politics of sharing?


No advance booking necessary.

Refreshments served.

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By: Heather Stanley
Last updated: Thursday, 9 February 2017