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  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study

    A study

    Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala

  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study Introduction


    RIGHTS published a comprehensive report titled, Lessons of Discrimination in Development-Children of Dalit, Adivasi, and Fishing Communities in Kerala Development in 2011. The study focused on access to education and health for children from marginalized communities in Kerala. Through this study RIGHTS was able to expose the grave reality of the challenges in Education and Health faced by children from the margins, which remains hidden from much hyped and celebrated ‘Kerala Model Development’. The study received wide support and encouragement from the public, especially from groups working among the marginalized communities. Through collective efforts the findings of the study were presented to the Government and Planning Commission experts who enabled in initiating relevant discussions and resolutions.

    Unlike previous report which is focused on the challenges of marginalized communities on the whole, this time RIGHTS aim at various educational welfare schemes/ institutions provided to the marginalized community’s i.e Pre Matric Hostels for the Scheduled Caste, Model Residential School for the Scheduled Tribe and Regional Fisheries Technical Schools for the Fishing community. The first attempt of the series is the study of Pre Matric Hostels for the Scheduled Caste and we humbly present the study report for further discussions and actions.



  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study

    It was in 1957 that the Scheduled Caste Department began the scheme of Pre Matric Hostels (PMH) with the aim of improving the educational status of economically backward children, both boys and girls belonging to the Scheduled Caste. The PMH cater to the educational needs of the targeted group of children from V to X standard. At present responsibility to manage PMH’s vested with Local self governments and administrative control with Scheduled Caste Department.

    The PMH scheme which started with 5 hostels presently has 90 hostels across the 14 districts of Kerala1. It is important scheme of the department which is designed to benefits around 3,000 children belonging to the Scheduled Caste.

    The survey team visited 45 PMH across the state covering all 14 districts, and collected information’s from hostel authorities, inmates, parents and the local leaders. The team also used questionnaire mainly to assess the infrastructure availability. To make the report comprehensive the team visited 50% hostels in kerala. The finding of the study is based on the interaction/ dialogue that we had with all stake holders and observation made by the team in each hostels. Out of the 45 hostels where the study was conducted 47% were Girls Hostel and the rest 53% was Boys Hostel.



    1.Scheduled Caste Development Guide 2011


  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study

    All most all PMH’s are located in areas, which is difficult to access. Even in urban areas, hostels are located in remote locations where bus service and other transportation facilities are weak. Often the hostels are situated besides paddy fields, top of the hills, nearby irrigation canals, in midst of plantations and inside Dalit colonies! We can see a planning tactics based on caste and historic domination that push Dalit population in to fixed geographical areas getting repeated in the selection of location for PMH’s .

    As fas as the students of Tamil and Kannada medium are concerned, the distance between hostels and their homes are too far. Children of Tamil dominated areas of Munnar has to depend on Tamil medium schools and hostels in Palakkad district. The Kannada medium students of Kasrgod also faces the similar problem.

    The important factor that makes PMH unattractive is its location, while on the contrary voluntary groups, communities and private organizations is building up “Hostel Business” targeting urban areas

    and accessible places.


    Where the PMH’s Locate

    To reach school we have to walk through a paddy field and also to cross a stream. It is difficult in rainy season. Sometimes we have to swim”. -A group of hostellers.

  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study The concept to provide good educational opportunity for dalit children was water down even at the beginning by selecting an inaccessible place to set up PMH’s. Also it is important to note that there is a wide spread perception among those who run the PMH’s systems that PMH’s provide better facilities compare to pathetic lives of dalits in the state. This notion based on ‘charity’ and ‘benevolence’ sidetracks the ‘rights based’ approach in its all activities.

    78% 8% 14% I would not have agreed to drop you here if I knew you had to come here. I thought you had to go to the church school hostel which is on the main road. You have pay double the actual fare. You also saw the condition of the road. None in the auto stand will come here”. - an auto driver who was hired by the team.

    Inmates of PMH’s go to school by

    Walk Privet bus School bus


  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study

    Out of the 78%children who have to walk to school from the PMH, more than 15% of them has to walk more than 2km to reach the school. It may be a strange fact to know that only the students in PMH who would have to walk 2km and reach school in Kerala!. Even though many Government and Government Aided schools have the facility of bus services for students, the PMH inmates cannot avail these facilities. The eight percent children who travel by bus utilize the pocket money given to them for other needs to pay the bus fare. Children are not given bus fare by the department to travel and adding to the misery the pocket money distribution is also always being lagged for two to three months.

    The remote location of the hostels also poses problems on the safety of girl children who have to travel through the isolated roads daily to reach school. Thirty percent girl children who stay in hostels have to walk more than 2km to their school. Children themselves shared their safety concerns to us during our visit.

    Many of the PMH are located in such places where even an auto rickshaw cannot be hired to reach hospital in case of an Emergency.


    Distance between PMH and Schools

    Less than 1 KM 1-2 KM More than 2 KM

    36% 30% 34%

  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study

    It seems that availability of drinking water has not been considered as criterion for selecting the suitable place for hostels, which is a basic need to live. The trend often seen is that after establishing hostel in a water-deprived area, many projects/ private facilities are made use spending huge amounts to drinking water in the hostels. Drinking water shortage exists in majority of the hostels. The water in the wells and the bore wells also start draining by November. Many health and sanitary issues also arise by limiting the use of water.


  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study

    83 percent of the Pre Matric hostels have owned buildings while the rest 17 percent hostels function in rented buildings1. The hostel buildings planned and constructed by the Public Works Department often possess the same structure and design. The unique features of the hostels are the narrow corridors, small rooms and congested dormitory with restricted space. There is no hostel where there is facility to accommodate study table, chair, cupboard and bed together in a single room or dormitory. The actual number of inmates in each hostel is 30 percent less than what has been sanctioned. At present, many hostels managed limitation of space with this ‘shortage’!. The failure in providing even the basic amenities for children often prevents parents from sending their children to the hostels.

    The Age of the inmates, study atmosphere, geographical factors etc are not scientifically examine or considered for design the hostels buildings. Repairing of buildings and other facilities never carryout any hostels on a time bound manner.

    1 Scheduled Caste Development Guide 2011


    “….Can’t you see. The hostel is in an isolated area besides a paddy field. None comes to the area after 7:00 p.m. With no compound walls also, I am living with fear here each night with 21 girls. “ -

    A female warden


  • Pre Matric Hostels for Dalit Children in Kerala- A study

    When hostel wardens inform the Local Self Government about any urgent repair works in the hostel, instead of giving attention to those works they often show interest in other money intensive projects of roofing , Rainwater harvesting etc.

    All hostels that have used European closets in their toilets are completely damaged and unusable. In many hostels, the toilets in the first floor have become dysfunctional and dirty due to the scarcity of water and leak in the roofs. Due to the scarcity of water, all children in the hostels depend on the toilets in the ground floor. 46 percent of the toilets have damaged doors or no door, and no locks. In many places toilets that constructed inside dormitory poses health and hygiene