Socio-Economic Status and Educational Attainment and Challenges of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes


In 2008, the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) submitted a report on the socio-economic conditions of the “most disadvantaged and vulnerable sections of Indian society.” In its report, the NCDNT made several recommendations, including the implementation of housing, education and employment programmes for these communities.

This 2017 report, by the Council for Social Development (CSD), Hyderabad, focuses on the access these communities have to education as well as how much education they have received. Specifically, the report (as its subtitle says), is  ‘A study of (a) Western & Northern States - Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh (b) Southern States – Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu & Puducherry’.

The CSD conducted surveys in nine states and found a close relationship between ‘poor socio-economic conditions’ and low levels of education. It says that the existing government programmes and policies are not enough to improve access to education of these most vulnerable sections.

The report’s recommendation include preparing  systematic lists of Denotified, Nomadic tribes and Semi-Nomadic Tribes at the national and state levels; training state and school authorities to ensure the human rights of these communities; and making officials aware of the history of criminalisation of these groups and how stigma can force their children to drop out of school.


  1. In the 2011 Census, the literacy rate among the Scheduled Tribes (which included some of the Denotified Tribes) was 58.9 per cent as compared to the national literacy rate of 72.9 per cent.

  2. In Maharashtra, 40.6 per cent of the CSD survey respondents (over 6 years) completed their education (at different levels), while 17.6 per cent dropped out. When asked about the distance travelled to their educational institutions, 61 per cent said less than a kilometre and 6.1 per cent said 5-10 kilometres.

  3. In Goa, 81.3 per cent of the households surveyed lived in temporary shelters. Among the respondents over 6 of age, 25.2 per cent were never enrolled in school and 11.6 per cent completed their education.

  4. In Gujarat, 31.1 per cent of the respondents over 6 were never enrolled in school. When asked about aspirations for their daughters, 46 per cent of households surveyed said they had not thought about this in detail.

  5. In Madhya Pradesh, 48.3 per cent of the respondents over 6 were never enrolled in school. Around 14 per cent of the households said that teachers were inattentive to their children and 13 per cent said their children had faced discrimination while being served mid-day meals.

  6. In Chhattisgarh, 30.3 per cent of the respondents over 6 said they completed their education. Around 15 per cent of the households said that if a girl was educated, she could prevent exploitation and enjoy a comfortable life.

  7. In Andhra Pradesh, 14 per cent of the respondents over 6 had completed their education. Of the households surveyed, 80 per cent wanted their sons to pursue a graduate degree or higher degree, but only around 25 per cent  wanted their daughters to pursue these degrees.

  8. Around 8.9 per cent of the respondents over 6 in Telangana had completed their education. 31 per cent of the households surveyed wanted their daughters to pursue higher education.

  9. In Karnataka, 52.5 per cent of the respondents were labourers in non-agricultural sectors, 14.2 per cent were agricultural labourers, 3.7 per cent were involved in agriculture, and 13 per cent ran small businesses. 40 per cent of the respondents over 6 were never enrolled in school. The report says that these low-paid occupations put constraints on the education of the Denotified Tribes.

  10. In Tamil Nadu, 48.4 per cent of the respondents over 6 had not completed their education.


    Focus and Factoids by Vasundhara Kamath.


Council for Social Development, Southern Regional Centre, Hyderabad

Revised, compiled and edited by Kalpana Kannabiran, Sujit Kumar Mishra, Soumya Vinayan and K. Jafar 


Indian Council of Social Science Research, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi


Jul, 2017