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Textured Complexities

Saraswathi Raju

Edited by Vimala Ramachandran
Sage Publications, Delhi, 2004, pp. 373, Rs. 390.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 10 October 2005

The book is an outcome of sponsored studies by the European Com- mission in the field of primary education under the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) and addresses, amongst other issues, whether in DPEP gender and equity concerns have been ‘mainstreamed’ or they continue to remain sporadic and localized. In order to identify various instruments through which these questions could be interrogated, particularly as they relate to children from disadvantaged communities and those from scattered habitations, the scholars have taken a closer look at: a) DPEP data and what they reveal and what they do not reveal, b) analyses of DPEP’s strategies for gender and equity concerns particularly Education Guarantee Schemes (EGS) and Alternative schools (AS), c) institutional mechanisms in place to address the gender and equity issues, d) changes in the classroom, and e) an overall examination of contemporary scenario.   The book is divided into two sections. The first section is a desk review of existing literature on gender and equity issues and draws from data derived from various sources as well as from DPEP. It also deals with various institutional mechanisms, and strategies, alternative and education guarantee schemes, their strength and weaknesses and classroom processes. This prelude has provided a basis for identifying the key areas of inquiry which formed the bases of chapters in the second section.   Readily available quantitative data on primary education often deal with the available physical, human and fiscal infrastructure and various structural constraints that may act as barriers for a particular segment of population i.e. girls keeping away from schools in the absence of women teachers or separate toilets etc. Although contrasting evidences are available from fields, poverty is still seen as responsible for differential allocation of resources to educating girls and boys. Within these overall explanatory frameworks, however, localized specificities which relate to ground realities of ordinary people including parents’, teachers’ and children’s aspirations, values, attitudes, and perceptions which may not necessarily follow the usual pattern in impacting access to primary education in all locations remain largely unexplored. Very often these nuances remain unattended because large-scale statistical data are not amenable to such interrogation. Because of the nature of the existing DPEP data, layered and textured analyses of issues of class, caste and gendered locations are not possible.   The contributors to this book have overcome the limitation of officially available data by conducting field studies of the representative ...

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