Kuchh toh Kar Lenge ‘We will Manage Something’

Classroom as a Space of Diminishing Aspirations for Adivasi Students

  • Bhawna Parmar (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


This paper is based on the experiences of students of the Santhali community in a classroom in a village in the Dumka district in the Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand. I draw attention to the aspirations of Santhali students by emphasising their everyday interactions and negotiations with the state and the education system. While juggling between manual labour and the pressures of early marriage, Santhali students strive to acquire educational capital that promises them symbolic distance from manual labour. The spatial practices of schooling emphasise a ‘decontextualized modernity’, which scholars have noted, deems Adivasis as non-modern and hence in need of reform. The hidden curriculum of the school is Foucauldian, aiming to impose values of mastering self-discipline, and this value becomes central to the relationship Adivasi students have with the education system, embodied by the classroom. This article argues that while the classroom urges Adivasi students to leave their identity outside the school, under the garb of equality, it still others them through pedagogical practices, teacher-student interactions, and a curriculum that defines what is and what is not attainable for them. Employing ethnographic methods, this paper extends Dost and Froerer’s (2021) idea of aage badhna (progress) that education promises but makes ‘almost impossible’, by disallowing Adivasi students the promised social mobility that shapes their aspirations. In its exclusion of the Adivasi identity, the state education thus excludes and fails Adivasi students.


Aspirations, Adivasi, Education, Reproduction, Santhali