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RTE jury for action against teacher over kid's harassment

Bangalore, Sept 8, 2013, DHNS: 3:06 IST
Sumitra, mother of Rashmi, studying in Lakshmi Ranganthan School, speaks at the public hearing on the implementation of the RTE Act, in Bangalore on Saturday. DH Photo
An incident of corporal punishment, reflecting poor awareness among schools about child rights, came to light on the second day of the public hearing for RTE violations here on Saturday.

An LKG student from Lakshmi Ranganathan School in Chandra Layout was harassed by the ayah in the school. According to the mother of the child, the school’s ayah had subjected the infant to severe physical torture on July 15.

“My daughter was beaten up and locked up in her school toilet for up to three hours. She complained of pain in the abdomen after that and her face too was swollen,” she said. A police complaint in this regard had been filed at the Chandra Layout police station.

In a frail defence, the school management claimed that the child had come late to school, even furnishing a CD containing CCTV footage to prove their point.

More drama unfolded when the child was taken for examination in the middle of the hearing to determine whether or not she had been physically harassed. The child had apparently not gone to the school since the incident and had been admitted to another school, according to her mother.

Taking cognisance of the matter, the members of the jury comprising of former High Court judges A J Sadashiva and Chandrasekharaiah along with Niranjan Aradhya V P, professor at National Law School of India University (NLSIU), asked for an inquiry to be initiated against the ayah and strict action to be taken against the headmaster of the school for not intervening.

“The real culprit in this matter is the headmaster. He chose to ignore the matter. The institution should take disciplinary actions against him,” said Chandrasekharaiah. It was also brought to the notice of the jury that the ayah was also working as a maid in the headmaster’s household. This was also seen as the reason for his indifference. The jury asked the school management to pay a fine of Rs 20,000 and another Rs 5,000 as compensation for the admission fees the girl’s parents paid to the school.

A number of cases relating to the lack of infrastructure and facilities in schools were also brought before the jury. The lack of staff for maintenance and cleanliness at the Government Kannada Higher Primary School, Munireddypalya had led to its deplorable condition.

There were no clean toilets or proper facilities for drinking water, according to the headmaster of the school. Explaining a peculiar problem of the department in this regard, Dev Prakash, Director of the Primary Education department, said that under the department’s present rules, Group-D workers (staff for maintenance, cleanliness) were not hired for all schools.

Certain criteria like the size of student population in a school are taken into consideration while employing such staff. “A proposal is being sent to the government to change the rules and provide such staff to all schools,” said Prakash. Until this was done, Chandrasekharaiah suggested a quick measure. “The government should take steps to improve the situation. Allow teachers to hire people to do the job of cleaning the school on a contractual basis,” he said.

A four-year-old boy suffering from ‘kidney cancer’ from Bellary was given ‘special admission’ to LKG at Nandi School near his house, despite all the seats under the 25 per cent quota being filled up there. They also ruled for the continuation of his schooling beyond class 8 and till the PU level in the same school.

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