LIMT- Higher Education for Dalits in Rural Area
Posted By Damian Glania | Tuesday, November 02, 2010
The Jesuits of Pune Province founded the LIMT on 03 August 2009. It is affiliated to the Tilak Maharashtra University, Pune (Faculty of Distance Education). It is a new initiative of the Jesuits to provide an opportunity of relevant higher education, in the professional fields of management and computer applications, primarily to the poor. To begin with, LIMT gives these youth the possibility of graduating in Business Administration (BBA) and Computer Applications (BCA), both of which are Bachelor-Degree programs.
The target group of the LIMT comprises mainly youth (boys & girls) from rural areas, who would otherwise not be able to access higher education possibilities in other institutions that lead to professional degrees. This is because they lack the capacity to pay heavy donations such institutions demand. Even if a Dalit student is able to pay those high fees, he or she is often denied admission because of their caste status.
Who are Dalits? The word Dalit means "oppressed". Dalits are basically those who belong to what was earlier known as ‘out castes’, ‘untouchables’ etc.. Mahatma Gandhi tried to coin a new word for this people and gave them the name ‘Harijan’ which means ‘children of God’. Sweet as it may have sounded, the exploitation and oppression by the other caste inhabitants did not decrease. Hence these people rejected the word ‘Harijan’ and preferred to be called ‘Dalits’ since they continued to be ‘oppressed’.
Many of the youth who come to LIMT are from the socially disadvantaged and marginalized Dalit communities. They come mainly from the Ahmednagar District in the Nashik Diocese. Many of them are Christian, mainly Catholic, who are often denied the rights that a Dalit is granted by the Indian Constitution. To make up for the past the Constitution had granted special quotas for education and employment to the Dalits. This is denied those who have converted to Christianity since it is said that in Christianity the caste system does not exist
The Institute is temporarily located at present at the Northern Branch, Shrirampur and is operating in cramped conditions. It has two bigger halls used for lectures and a number of smaller class rooms in two buildings. There are two computer labs and a library on the first floor in the main building. One of the labs is fully operational with 20 PCs and a LAN network including an internet connection. Some of the hardware is a bit outdated, but still running on Windows XP. We have currently 9 up to date PCs with two operating systems (Linux and Windows). The other lab is prepared with the furniture, but so far we have no equipment for it. The library has some furniture and a few books related to our subjects. There are two hostels, the one for girls is located on the campus while the boys hostel is about 300 meters away. The hostels have a capacity to accommodate about 20 students in each of them. At present there are 12 girls and 7 boys staying in the hostels.
Because of the principles of the institute, the fees payable by the students are quite low. In addition LIMT has to pay 50% this amount to the Tilak Maharashtra University for the affiliation. The Tilak Maharashtra University provides the syllabus materials, proposes books for the courses, conducts the examinations and awards the graduation certificates. LIMT, in order to continue providing valuable assistance to the Dalit community needs support in three main areas: