NEW DELHI:February 2016: Six-year-old Divyansh drowned in his school water tank in Delhi.
February 2016: A Class VII student in a top private school in Ranchi was found dead within the school premises. His teacher was arrested.
August 2015: The headmistress of a private school in Bengaluru was arrested after a three-year-old was sexually assaulted on the school premises.
As evident in these cases, children do not seem to be safe within the campuses of their own schools. Hence, the Central government has drafted guidelines for their safety, the chief among which is compulsory police verification of teachers before hiring, which will come into effect at the start of the coming academic year.
Other major guidelines include making a school’s governing council responsible for any negligence resulting in harm to a student. “The guidelines are being formulated in consultation with stakeholders, which are the ministries of Women and Child Development and Human Resource Development, and the police,” Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Stuti Kakkar told The Sunday Standard.
A separate manual on transportation will make it mandatory for state governments to ensure that all schools provide transportation to students, banning private modes like rickshaws and autos.
“If some schools say that they cannot provide transport, then the state governments would be responsible to ensure that children are transported safely,” said Priyank Kanoongo, NCPCR member, who is involved in the framing the guidelines.
Commenting on sports facilities such as horse riding and swimming offered by private schools to students, he said, “In many places, the person recruited to train is not competent in that particular sport.” For this, the guidelines will include a clause necessitating sports teachers to be competent in their areas. “We roped in the Sports Authority of India to evolve this guideline,” he added.
The guidelines also seek to formulate proper counselling for teachers and students to address any concerns about school activities.
The NCPCR, a body under the women and child development ministry, has powers under the Right to Education (RTE) Act to ensure implementation of guidelines.
Dos and don’ts
■ Governing council to be responsible for any negligence resulting in harm to a student
■ Mandatory for state governments to ensure that all schools provide transportation to students
■ Sports teachers must be competent in their areas
■ Principals will ensure enforcement of the guidelines
New Delhi: The government has drafted guidelines to ensure the safety of children in schools. Besides linking the implementation of the guidelines to the RTE Act, the Ministry of Women and Child Development will rope in the Central Board of Secondary Education and the state boards.
“Affiliating bodies will carry out yearly inspections, and if schools are not found to be complying with the set guidelines, then it will affect their affiliation process,” Kanoongo said.
School principals will be held responsible for the enforcement of the guidelines. Tania Joshi, Principal of The Indian School here, said the provision of compulsory police verification of teachers would be a “bombshell” for educational institutes.
“It is a good move. You have no other alternatives or choices left, especially when you are dealing with young lives,” she said.
Most parents have welcomed the new guidelines. Deepika Sharma, a Delhi mother whose child goes to a leading private school, said: “News reports of such incidents make it very difficult for a parent with young children. If the government is coming out with such guidelines, it is a welcome move”.
A government-backed survey in 2007 of children in 13 states showed that more than half (53 per cent) had been subjected to one or more forms of sexual abuse. Over 20 per cent of those interviewed said they were subjected to severe forms of abuse. Of those, who said they were sexually abused, 57 per cent were boys.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 89,423 crimes against children were reported across the country in 2014.