JK Gujjars demand new educational scheme for nomads

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Jammu, Jan 20: The Gujjar tribe of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday demanded to initiate new educational schemes for nomadic tribes keeping in view their difficult and migratory way of life. They urged that government may develop tribes without disturbing their centuries old lifestyle.
This was stated by the speakers of a programme organized by Tribal Research and Tribal Foundation here today on the topic “How to remove illiteracy among Gujjars-Bakerwals”. The programme was presided over by well known Gujjar scholar Dr. Javaid Rahi while a number of tribal writers, student and youth were present.
Dr Javaid Rahi, in his presidential address said that this is a matter of grave concern that as per census 2011, 07 out of every 10 Gujjars / Bakerwals of State are illiterate. He added that this data of literacy is quite alarming rather distressing. He also flagged the female literacy rate, saying that the Gujjar-Bakerwal woman is worst sufferer with 82.2 per cent illiteracy as said in the data released by Registrar General of India.
He stated that Gujjar-Bakrwal women is worst sufferer having lowest illiteracy in the state. He said only new and innovative educational scheme can tackle this serious problem of illiteracy.
The speakers exhorted the government to view the large disparity in literacy rates of Gujjars-Bakerwals in the state, which have lagged in almost all socio-economic parameters, and promote educational development for them on a “mission mode”.
They said that both the tribal groups are facing extremely low literacy rates in comparison to other tribes of Jammu and Kashmir and suggested affordable and inclusive education programme for tribal groups.
The scholars stated said that extreme poverty, rough and tough living, early marriage system and Nomadic costumes were causing dark shadows over the future of lakhs of nomadic Gujjar and Bakerwal children residing in the most backward, hilly and border areas of Jammu and Kashmir and compel them for child labour mostly within their family.
They suggested that ‘Forced Schools” should be opened to educate the nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwal children as most of the parents are not ready to send their kids to schools owing to migratory way of life and low tribal economy.
They said that the Government should start same type of compulsory free education for the children of Ajjhari (Shepherded Gujjars), Manjhi (Cattle rarer Gujjars) as the parents are deliberately denying education to their children and using them as human resource in their day-to-day work.
Among others, who spoke on the occasion were Choudhary Ishtiaq Misbsah, Rashid Chouhan, K D Chowdhary , Rafeeq Kassana, Ameer Din, Khadam Husaain , etc.