School principal booked for caning students

Cops take suo motu action; Activist alleges this is latest incident of children being harassed over late payment of fees

Published: 10th February 2018 02:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2018 04:07 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD:  After a video of Gowtham Model School principal caning students went viral on Friday, Shalibanda police took suo motu cognisance of the incident and booked the principal under Section 324 of IPC.According to inspector Shyam Sunder, no parent had come forward to lodge a complaint. “However, the principal admitted to caning the children and stated she was only trying to discipline the students as the board exams are around the corner. We have one of our officers at the school, but none of the children are willing to speak,” he said. 

Meanwhile, child rights NGO Balala Hakkula Sangham alleged that this was yet another case of management ‘torturing’ children over non-payment of fees. Achyuta Rao, from the NGO, that irrespective of the reason for the punishment, police needed to take action and it was unlawful for schools to hurt children. Only last week, 14-year-old Sai Deepthi, from a private school in Malkajgiri committed after being humiliated for not paying exam fees.

Gowtham Model School, Shalibanda branch, counsellor Saleha Banu, however, told Express that “caning was only to discipline students who sometimes are unmanageable or don’t bring books or do not complete their homework.” “For any fee-related issue, we make it a point to call parents and counsel them. In fact just a few days ago the principal issued a circular to all teachers urging them not to beat children. Instead, we make them do sit-ups,” she said, adding that a teacher with a grudge against the principal must have shot the video.  

A struggle for parents

City parents told Express that while some schools are considerate towards their financial constraints, others pressure students. One parent who works as a cleaning staff in a private company shared that she and her husband together earn `18,000 a month. The couple has four children whose fees add up to lakhs in a year. “We have the pressure to pay three or four times a year. The teacher sends the child home and asks to meet with us and then we explain our situation to her. We negotiate and they allow us to pay when we have enough,” she said. 

“My husband and I try not to argue or discuss the lack of money in front of the children. They begin to believe that they are a burden,” she added. Another cleaning staff shared that without means to pay her son’s fees, she made him to drop out after Class 7. “He is now 17 and works odd jobs,” she said. 
“There will be so many situations where people humiliate us. But there is no mechanism to help kids understand,” said  Radhika Acharya, city-based child psychologist, adding counsellors in every school can help in dealing with problems children face. 

What RTE Act says  
Identifies education as a basic right for children 
It calls for 25% reservation in private schools where children are to be admitted on the basis of caste reservation, economic status 
The State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, which has not been formed for the last two years, has the power to ensure that Right To Education  
(RTE) Act is implemented  
Corporal punishment not ‘illegal’?
Corporal punishment is not criminal in under any law 
RTE Sec 17 (1) and (2), talks about corporal punishment, but it is only civil in nature
Violation under RTE only leads to disciplinary action 
Only stringent action in this regard is Sec 75 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, which, when proven, leads to six years of imprisonment. However, this too is not specific to corporal punishment and applies to those who are in-charge of the child at the time (including parents)
People get away stating they were trying to discipline the child 

Other such incidents...
Jan8: Two tribal students of SC Hostel in Zaheerabad were make to do a headstand for two hours and beaten up with a plastic pipe if they stumbled. The students were caught skipping classes and fighting 
Jan 3: Class IV students of Chaitanya Techno School was trashed by dance teacher for not following steps  
Feb 2: Class IX student of Jyothi High School, Malkajgiri committed suicide after being punished for not paying examination fee of `2,000

TS hasn’t been able to do much on corporal punishment
In the absence of a statutory law for corporal punishment, the education department too has not been able to do much in terms of taking action against violators. The Directorate of School Education, for instance, has a standard procedure of issuing show cause notices to errant schools. “We follow the procedure prescribed under the GO MS 1 in instances of corporal punishment. If its issue is criminal in nature the police take action. We can’t shut down schools where 500-600 students are studying,” G Kishan, director and commissioner, school education said.

Class V student of Govt School beaten up, 
BHS demands suspension of teacher
Hyderabad: In another incident on Friday, a class V student of Government High School, Sultan Bazar, was beaten with a scale by his Maths teacher. According to the boy’s mother, the boy and friends got into a fight in the school, following which the boys complained to the teacher Srinivas Reddy. The teacher trashed the boy with a scale as a result of which his hands were bruised. Meanwhile, Balala Hakula Sangham (BHS) has demanded the suspension of the teacher.

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