Justice Chandru committee pushes for removal of 'caste names' from schools

The committee was appointed by the state government in September 2023 following the hacking of a 17-year-old Dalit students by his classmates from the dominant Maravar community in Nanguneri in Tirunelveli district.
Last Updated : 18 June 2024, 17:21 IST

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Chennai: To avoid caste or community-based violence among college and school students and create harmony in state-run educational institutions, Justice (retired) K Chandru-headed committee has made some key recommendations to the Tamil Nadu government.

These include the removal of caste prefix from school names; keeping caste names away from attendance registers, a 'Code of Conduct' for teachers and staff of any school, college or university run by the state government and the appointment of School Welfare Officer (SWO) and counsellors.

The committee was appointed by the state government in September 2023 following the hacking of a 17-year-old Dalit students by his classmates from the dominant Maravar community in Nanguneri in Tirunelveli district.

The committee also pushed for a Code of Discipline for all students which should be strictly enforced within legal bounds and made it clear that students should be prohibited from wearing any coloured wristbands, rings, or forehead marks.

“They must also refrain from coming to school on bicycles painted with reference to their caste or exhibiting any caste-related sentiments. Failure to comply with these rules must result in appropriate action being taken, in addition to advising their parents or guardians,” the report, accessed by DH, said.

Caste markers are a major problem in districts like Tirunelveli as highlighted by DH in its report on November 26.

In the long-term, the committee recommended special legislation to enforce a policy of social inclusion and eradication of caste discrimination, enhance local bodies' control over primary education, and formulate new legislation to grant true autonomous powers to local bodies, making education more people-oriented.

The retired justice said the government must issue an administrative order directing the removal of caste prefixes from school names and must refer to them solely as government schools, followed by their place of location. The same should also apply for private schools, and the government must impose a stipulation that the school's name shall not bear any caste appellation in the case of establishment of a new educational institute.

Other important recommendations include periodic transfer of high school and higher secondary school teachers, while guidelines must be issued concerning the non-posting of persons belonging to the dominant caste of that area with respect to the posting of officers from the cadre of CEOs, DEOs, BEOs, and headmasters of high and higher secondary schools.

“An expert committee of educators, along with a person who specializes in child pedagogy, must be constituted to review the syllabus prescribed for school students. The committee must provide suggestions for eliminating incorrect views and include content that will enhance social justice values, non-discriminatory attitudes, and concepts of equality,” the report said.

Justice Chandru also recommended that the government must appoint a Social Justice Monitoring Committee comprising academicians and social activists to monitor the school students' curriculum relating to social issues and suggest appropriate modifications in a time-bound manner.

Seating arrangements of students in every classroom in all schools and colleges should be strictly based on alphabetical order, the report said, adding that students' attendance register should not contain any column or details relating to their caste.

Other recommendations include orientation programmes for school students, appointment of trained counsellor for each block, creation of the post of School Welfare Officer (SWO) for each secondary school with more than 500 students, a dedicated Grievance Box, and formation of Social Justice Students Force (SJSF).

“Instead of having kitchens in every school, the government should establish central kitchens in every Block (Panchayat Unions), with adequate regular staff required for its operation and a distribution network attached to school noon meal centres,” the report said and wanted restriction on the use of school properties for non-educational purposes.

Published 18 June 2024, 17:21 IST

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