Have our educational institutions, schools and colleges, whether private or government-run, become empty edifices with no human moral core governing them? Run just on profit motives or for chasing rankings, without any care for the overall well-being of students? Have our students been reduced to mere production units coming out of a conveyor belt—with little or no room for a holistic treatment of the totality of their needs, their safety and security?
Imagine the horror of the parents when their seven-year-old is returned to them by a school as a lifeless body. That too not due to any unfortunate accident. Murdered, and probably sexually abused. Parents had to gather outside the school—Ryan International in Gurgaon, in this case—for days on end, get lathicharged by the police to get the state administration to even initiate preliminary action against the school authorities—and an owner living far away in Mumbai. This particular group has been caught in the wrong before as well. Still they continue to run with impunity and zero reform. Especially screening of staff.
A bus conductor allegedly accosted the seven-year-old, Pradyuman Thakur, in the school’s washroom—and stabbed the child to death after making sexual advances. The aggrieved parents had to move the Supreme Court to force the Centre and state government and the CBSE to formulate guidelines within three weeks to ensure children are secure in their schools.
A court-monitored CBI probe may follow. Obviously, there is no common mechanism worth mentioning that could ensure child security in schools. Ryan International is not the only black sheep, and Pradyuman’s death not the only tragedy. In the past few days alone, a five-year-old girl has been raped in a Delhi school, and an 11-year-old girl in a Hyderabad school made to stand in the boys’ washroom as a punishment for not wearing proper uniform. The social depravity obviously runs deep and wide. Just court-monitored probe, guidelines, stringent inspection systems, may not be enough to stem the rot.