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India's kids suffering from prejudice at school: HRW

NEW DELHI -- Some Indian teachers force children from lower castes and minority religions to clean toilets and sit separately from their classmates as part of “persistent” discrimination in classrooms, a rights group said Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch said pupils from marginalized communities often dropped out of school and started working as laborers rather than face continued humiliation at the hands of teachers and principals.

The 77-page study on schools was compiled through interviews with more than 160 teachers, principals, parents and students in four states which have large populations of low-caste poor, indigenous tribals and Muslims.

“India's immense project to educate all its children risks falling victim to deeply rooted discrimination by teachers and other school staff against the poor and marginalized,” said the report's author Jayshree Bajoria.

Children from Muslim communities were among those often made to sit at the back of classrooms or in separate rooms. They were called derogatory names, were denied leadership roles and were served food last, the report said.

Some children said they were segregated and neglected because they were considered dirty, while Muslim students said they were called “mullahs,” a term for an Islamic cleric, instead of by their names.

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