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December 2001

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Teaching Socio-economically Backward Children

Dr. Harnek S. Kaile


John Adams says,"The teacher teaches John Latin", meaning thereby that from teaching point of view, both John (learner) and Latin (subject) are important. In other words, the teacher should be expert in the subject and also know fully about his student. For gaining information about the student, socio-economic aspect is as important as important as the psychological aspect.


In Good's view, socio-economic level depicts social and economic position of an individual or a group. Whatever an individual does in life has an impact of socio-economic aspects.


Socio-economic background includes the relationship between individual student and socio-economic system. It includes all such aspects as profession, income, cultural influences, religious beliefs, political system, family relations, standard of life etc. In Kuppuswamy's opinion, income and its source, profession and education are essential for gaining social recognition. An individual having two or three thousand rupees more salary than others and possessing ancestral property feels proud of himself. A coolie or peon or chowkidar has a low status in society, whereas a doctor or engineer or bank manager has a high social status.


A large number of researchers have studied the impact of socio-economic status on academic achievement and come to the conclusion that high socio-economic status leads to high academic achievement. In 1980, Rani conducted a study upon students of five Engineering Colleges and concluded that the academic achievement of scheduled caste students was significantly lower than that of non-scheduled castes. This author also studied the contribution of intelligence and creativity towards achievement in Punjabi, English and Hindi and found that there was a significant difference in the achievement of high, average and low socio-economic groups and also that the achievement of children of low socio-economic group was not in accordance with their basic abilities. Certain other researchers also found significant positive relationship between socio-economic status and academic achievement even when intelligence was controlled.


Parents of high socio-economic group have limited number of children and they utilize their resources for their development. But parents of low socio-economic status have, generally, a large number of children and cannot provide them with proper food, clothes and educational facilities. These children are emotionally unsafe and their parents have no time to take care of them. There is indiscipline in their homes and, that is why, their attitude is rebellious. They don't have opportunities for self-expression. They tell lies, steal, play truant and indulge in other delinquent activities. Such children are in need of pre-primary education which is denied to them and given to those who are not in much need of it because of healthy home environment.


In Hickerson's view, children of low socio-economic group don't have models to tell that school education leads to success in life. their parents have to struggle hard to fulfill the basic necessities of life and they themselves have to do some labour to improve the economic condition of the family. Sometimes, the children of low caste have to face discrimination, partiality and open opposition. the people of our country are caste-ridden and, sometimes, the teacher gives special attention to children of his own caste or of high socio-economic status. As a result, children of low socio-economic status have inferiority complex which hinders their development.


English poet Gray says that in every child there are possibilities of becoming a Hampdon, Milton or Cromwell and only circumstances become obstacles in their development. It may be an exaggeration, but the fact remains that many capable and talented individuals cannot do what they are capable of doing. Thus, human energy is wasted and lives are lost.


But all this does not mean that socio-economically backward children cannot shine. There are many examples of individuals who achieved heights of glory with their hard work, even though they belonged to poor families. Lal Bahadur Shastri had to cross Ganges to reach school. He had no money to pay the boat fare and he walks through the river with satchel on his head. At that time nobody knew that, one day, he would become the Prime Minister of India. Munshi Prem Chand had no shoes to his feet and no clothes to wear. He had to give tuitions to bear the expenses of education and, sometimes, he had nothing to eat. But he did not give in and became world famous novelist and short story writer. Likewise, Lincoln and Edison struggled hard amidst poverty and became frontliners of the great men of the world.


The teachers should play an effective role to create an appropriate environment for the education of socio-economically backward children. They should identify such children, have love and sympathy for them and help them in purchasing books, clothes etc. out of some school fund. In this way, such children will get opportunities of developing their inner feelings and human energy will be properly utilized.



DR.HARNEK SINGH KAILE, Ph.D.(Education), M.Phil(Education), M.Ed., M.A.(English), M.A.(Punjabi) has 28 years' experience as a lecturer in a college of education, and is presently Principal, G.H.G.Kh. College of Education, Gurusar Sudhar, Distt Ludhiana(Pb.) India. He has published many research papers, including Bharti Sikhya Churahe Te (in Punjabi) which has been translated into English and is being serialised here.

Dr Kaile can be reached by e-mail at