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India’s children suffer discrimination in classroom Low caste pupils forced to clean toilets, sit separately

NEW DELHI, April 22, (AFP): Some Indian teachers force children from lower castes and minority religions to clean toilets and sit separately from their classmates as part of “persistent” discrimination in classrooms, a rights group said Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch said pupils from marginalised communities often dropped out of school and started working as labourers rather than face continued humiliation at the hands of teachers and principals. The 77-page study on schools was compiled through interviews with more than 160 teachers, principals, parents and students in four states which have large populations of low-caste poor, indigenous tribals and Muslims. “India’s immense project to educate all its children risks falling victim to deeply rooted discrimination by teachers and other school staff against the poor and marginalised,” said the report’s author Jayshree Bajoria. “Instead of encouraging children from at-risk communities who are often the first in their families to ever step inside a classroom, teachers often neglect or even mistreat them,” she said.

Children from Muslim communities were among those often made to sit at the back of classrooms or in separate rooms. They were called derogatory names, were denied leadership roles and were served food last, the report said

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