On November 29, 2008 a group of Maoist insurgents entered Dwarika, India, and detonated a bomb in the only school in the village. The group, the Naxalites, tried to overthrow the Indian state and form a new government to protect oppressed people; therefore, they attacked government infrastructure, policemen, politicians, and businesses. Human Rights Watch released a report in December of 2009, that found at least 39 schools, if not more, have been attacked by the Naxalites insurgents. Today the school in Dwarika remains closed and has yet to receive government support. Most families do not have enough money to send their student to the neighboring village so their child instead works at home, falling behind in their education.
In addition, security forces occupy part or all of operating school buildings, crowding the functioning classrooms for students. Both boys and girls feel the presence and limitations of progress caused by the army throughout their school day. The girls are scared of harassment from the male soldiers and the boys are questioned about the village. One mother claims that her daughter’s school has been occupied since 2003, and has disrupted the educational system within the village. The Naxalites claim that they only attack those schools used as police camps, yet Human Rights Watch disputes this claim. Human Rights Watch insists that the Naxalites do not care who they attack, but try and intimidate the villagers to keep them from cooperating with government forces.
State authorities must fix the damaged schools or provide alternative education for their youth in order for them to succeed. Due to the damages caused by the Naxalites and the overvrowding of schools, the average class size has increased by almost 30 students to an astounding 65-75 students per class. Additionally, these schools literacy rates have fallen below India’s average of 65%. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has tried to fix the problem of reopening the damaged funds by allocating funds to the affected areas; however, the schools have yet to open. Thousands of students fall another year behind in their education, perpetuating the cycle of illiteracy in the small villages.
Student Researchers: Claire Apatoff, Erin Kielty, Tom Rich
Student Evaluator: Katherine Millis, Coordinator of Reference and Research, DePauw University
Student Instructor: Kevin Howley
Human Rights Watch: Where Schooling Is Sabotaged
Time: The Insurgency Threatening India’s Schools