Birth anniversary of Savitri Bhai Phule:Education in Times of Pandemic
DSS celebrated the birth anniversary of Savitri Bhai Phule on 3rd January 2022. Savitri Bhai Phule was a committed teacher who sacrificed her life for educating the downtrodden a century ago with courage. Her commitment to the cause was so adorable that she continued her mission despite non-cooperation from the society and attacks from fundamentalists. Every year DSS celebrates the birth
anniversary with a relevant theme to discuss the status of education of dalit children, particularly, girl children. This year the theme chosen was “Education in Times of Pandemic”. This theme was chosen to analyse the dalit children education during the closure of schools and during online classes.
The meeting was held in Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, Hyderabad on 3rd January 2022. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS presided over the meeting. Other dignitaries who spoke on the occasion were:
· Sri. PSN Murthy, IDAS (Retd.), Chief Advisor of PBI
· Sri. B. Manikyam, DE, TS Transco.
· Sri. Venkata Reddy, National Co-ordinator, MV Foundation.
· Dr. Praveena, DGO, Nilofar Hospital.
· Dr. Sneha, Dermatologist.
· Rajitha, Lecturer
Ms. Jhansi Geddam in her presidential address presented the life and struggles of Savitri Bhai Phule
as first teacher. Savitri Bhai Phule was a great visionary and social reformer who thought of educating the women more than a century ago. Lack of education is the cause of all social evils and backwardness and this was sought to be eradicated by Savitri Bhai Phule. She realised that lack of education was the reason for all superstitions, child marriages, sati and all other evils. Savitri Bhai Phule fought against these evils through Satya Sodhak Samaj and started educating the downtrodden sections. Jhansi Geddam pointed out that though the Constitution recognised education as a fundamental right under Article 21A, the actual implementation of this right is pitiful.
Sri. PSN Murthy emphasised the role of education in shaping the future of children. If children provided education in atmosphere of peace and without the problems of hunger and poverty, they
would grow as good citizens. He pointed out that parents should take care and properly mould the children up to the age of 5 years.
He wished that everyone, irrespective caste and social status should be able to get good education equally. He stressed the need for women education, as only an educated mother can bring up the children properly. He said, if one wants to know the greatness of a mother one should know about Savitri Bhai Phule. Mother and father play crucial role in proper up brining of the children. Savitri Bhai Phule, during her time established 18 Satya Sodhak Schools and it is their efforts that paved the way for the spread of education later. He lauded Savitri Bhai Phule and her husband as ideal couple who dedicated their lives for the emancipation of the downtrodden against all odds. Savitri Bhai Phule can be termed as the first teacher of the country.
Sri. Venkata Reddy in his speech said that during the time of pandemic all children and mothers suffered. He said girls are asking us a question whether we want to see them as free children in
pursuit of education or we want to see them as mothers or daughter-in-law. Encouraging our children to pursue education and become independent is the only way of paying real tribute to Savitri Bhai Phule. He narrated at the horrible situation of children of lower income group where domestic violence is rampant and these innocent children witness their mothers being beaten up routinely by their fathers. The agony of such children is pitiable. The sufferings of such mothers also can be eradicated only through education. He opined that now we don’t have governments that shows concerns about us. Present dispensation is more concerned in providing fly overs etc than providing drinking water and other facilities for the poor. Governments are not interested in providing toilets or drinking water in schools but are providing plenty of wine shops. He extolled DSS for its anxiety about the education of downtrodden.
Dr. Praveena, recounted how Jyotiba Phule succeeded in educating and inspiring his wife Savitri Bai to work for the education of the oppressed people. She suggested to watch the plays about the lives of prodigious people like Savitri Bhai Phule.
She expressed her distress at the present state of affairs of government schools where there is lot of indifference towards children education. She said that the role of parents is of utmost significance in nurturing the children. She added that society can be virtuous only if family system is good.
Ms. Manikyam, adored the life of Savitri Bhai Phule in dedicating for the oppressed people. Everyone should realise that the present society is caste ridden and one should work for the well-being of
oppressed castes without caring for what others might think. She cautioned everyone to be aware of the conspiracy of the governments to whittle down the advantage of reservations on the one side and privatising all institutions on the other side. She insisted that all employees and professionals should be given proper training and orientation on the subject of social justice, so that they may develop proper perspectives. She observed that during the time of pandemic the poor children suffered a lot as they missed schools and also mid-day-meals. The poor children suffered when online classes were taking place, as these children had no internet and no lap tops or smart phones. Further, as their parents are not aware of internet, they could not help their children. She called upon the leaders of dalit women collectives to further develop their leadership qualities.
Rajitha, in her speech emphasized the significance of education in freeing the society from superstitions and vicious culture. She appreciated DSS for promoting discussion on the education of
the downtrodden and for monitoring the schools, social welfare hostels.
Dr. Sneha, paid tributes to Savitri Bhai Phule for showing us the way with regard our responsibilities
and the culture we ought to follow. Education is important and without education one cannot develop rational thinking. The goal of education should be human progress and eradication of all superstitions. She observed that during the time of pandemic poor children suffered a lot due to lack of Wi-Fi facilities, lap tops and smart phones. She advised the downtrodden sections to give lot of importance to education as without education they will be restricted to continue the hard working and less remunerative jobs that they are now forced to do.
Ms. Bhagya Lakshmi and Ms. Hemalatha, co-ordinators of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh explained the activities of DSS in promoting the education of downtrodden children.