Periodic transfer of teachers suggested to curb caste bias in Tamil Nadu

The report said an orientation programme should compulsorily be given at the beginning of every academic year for all students from Class 6 to 12
Express Illustration
Express Illustration

CHENNAI: The report on how violence on the basis of caste and creed can be prevented among school and college students, submitted to the government by the one-man committee headed by Justice K Chandru, retired Judge of Madras High Court, contains many long-term recommendations to address systemic issues in blunt caste identities and tackle caste-based discriminations in educational institutions, especially schools.

The report said an orientation programme should compulsorily be given at the beginning of every academic year for all students from Class 6 to 12, facilitated by trained professionals and educators. The state government and school education department should permit all schools and colleges in Tamil Nadu to have student associations, with leadership elected annually by allowing students to vote.

The committee recommended that while maintaining the caste status of a student as a record file in the school, access to such a record should be confined only to the headmaster and other inspecting authorities visiting the school, ensuring that confidentiality is always maintained.

Stating that the government should strictly enforce banning the use of mobile phones by students on school campuses, the committee said this order should be applied not only to students of schools under the state board but also those in schools affiliated to other boards.

The committee said moral classes must be made compulsory for students from Class 6 to Class 12 in all types of schools. Every week, one period should be allocated for imparting Ara Neri (morals). The government should appoint a trained counsellor for each block, who will be required to attend all the secondary schools in that block. “In case any student is addicted to drugs, the counsellor will recommend the admission of that student to a de-addiction centre at the expense of the state and will monitor the student’s progress,” he added.

The state government must create a post of School Welfare Officer (SWO) for each secondary school with more than 500 students. In cases of co-education, there must be two SWOs, one of each sex.

The report further said the government should assess whether an area should be declared as caste atrocity-prone and take precautionary measures there. The state government can also constitute a special intelligence unit to gather information on caste violence and identify persons or organisations involved in fomenting caste discrimination, the report added.

It recommended periodic transfer of high school and higher secondary school teachers. On the posting of chief educational officers, district educational officers, block educational officers, and headmasters of high and higher secondary schools, the report said government should formulate guidelines for not posting persons belonging to the dominant caste of that area.

The Annual Confidential Reports (ACR) for such officers should record their attitudes towards SCs and STs. A code of conduct for teachers and staff of all types of schools, colleges, and universities run by the state must be prescribed statutorily.

He urged the need for the syllabus for the BEd degree and for the Diploma in Elementary Education to undergo a thorough revision to ensure orientation towards inclusivity.

While the committee recommended merger of various types of government-run schools like those run by Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare and Backward Classes Welfare departments, it can be recalled that recent efforts by the state government has faced hurdles, especially from the staff associations in the schools which felt that their interests will not be protected.

Key recommendations

  • Dropping caste appellations from names of government and private schools

  • Seating arrangements of students should be based on alphabetical order with an exception for the differently-abled

  • Attendance registers not to contain any details relating to students’ castes

  • Students should be prohibited from wearing coloured wristbands, rings, or forehead marks

  • Statutory prescribing of code of conduct for teachers and staff of all types of schools, colleges, and universities run by the state

  • Establishing Samooga Needhi Maanavar Padai (Social Justice Students Force - SJSF), akin to NSS, but will operate independently of union government. SJSF to include students from all communities, free from communal divisions, united in their efforts to combat social evils

  • CEOs, DEOs, BEOs, and headmasters of high and higher secondary schools not to be posted in areas where the castes they belong to have dominant presence

  • Periodic transfer of high school and higher secondary school teachers

‘Teachers, students assns failed to give views’

Chennai: The committee considered the views of the 2,741 respondents. Justice K. Chandru told TNIE that organised teachers’ associations and student organisations which are key stakeholders in the issue, however, did not give their views. There are nine recognised teachers associations and the committee sought their views through letter and email. Besides, organised political parties except DK, CPM and MDMK kept away from the committee. Chandru, who refused to receive remuneration for heading committees in the past, did the same for this committee too.

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