Research Radio Ep 17: Can Social Movements Change the Balance of Power in Educational Systems?

In this episode, we speak to Amman Madan, Rama Sastry, and B Ramdas about educational change and social movements. 

Two decades ago, a survey found that only about one in four Adivasis in Tamil Nadu's Gudalur town were literate and the rate among women was even worse. Adivasi student enrolment in specialised public schools was extremely low and the conditions of the schools were far from adequate. “Non-Adivasi teachers and staff showed little empathy or concern for the Adivasi children,” write the three guests for today’s episode. This grim picture has transformed significantly in much deeper ways than the brush-stroke statistics I’ve just shared. We’ll learn about the story of this transformation.

A scholar and two educationists join us on Research Radio today. Amman Madan studied anthropology and currently teaches at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. Dr Madan works on  promoting dialogue and justice through education. Rama Sastry has been a  passionate teacher who has taught marginalised children for four decades. B Ramdas has also been in the education space for four decades,  and along with Rama, is a trustee of the Viswa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust,  Gudalur, Nilgiris.

Before we hear from them, a little more  context: Rama and Ramdas, along with their colleagues, have worked to  actualise the transformative potential of education for Adivasi students  in the town of Gudalur, located in the Nilgiris. The town is home to  five Adivasi communities: the Paniyas, the Bettukurumbas, the  Mullukurumbas, the Kattunayakas, and the Irulas. They constitute about  10% of the population of Gudalur. And we’ll learn more about their  educational journey based on their article: "Social Movements and Educational Change: A Case Study of the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam."

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