When caste rears its ugly head in COVID times, education is the casualty

Caste, Education, Vidyagama
Many teachers across Karnataka have experienced a caste battle under the Vidyagama outreach education programme, wherein the upper caste people had a problem with lower caste students entering their premises, or accessing education with their kids | Image - Eunice Dhivya

When Channa Basava (name changed) and seven of his teacher colleagues walked into a village (not named due to fear of repercussions) in Sindhanur taluk of Karnataka’s Raichur district in May, they were all quite eager and enthusiastic to teach the children and continue the education process stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

This was under the state government’s newly launched programme, Vidyagama, wherein teachers would reach out to localities and villages to teach a group of students in a common place, rather than all gathering in a school.

This was especially for students from rural areas and backward sections who could not afford online education. The teachers were to conduct classes in groups, maintaining COVID-19 protocols of social distancing and masks. (The Vidyagama programme has been stopped after several students contracted COVID.)

Basava and his colleagues found a Lingayat mutt with vast land and big trees as a suitable place to teach 230 students. The mutt seer also agreed happily to the prospect of holding classes in their premises.

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