21September2018

Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

Student Abuse Issues Remain Unresolved

For 11-year old BabliGhosh, belonging to a nondescript West Bengal town, something as innocuous as being unable to copy a poem into her notebook, turned out to be fatal. In a fit of wild rage, the teacher threw a duster at Babli that hit the child’s head and proceeded to “slap Babli repeatedly,” according to her classmates. Unable to bear the torture, the child succumbed after a few hours.

 

Babli’s isn’t a case in isolation. It’s one of the scores of cases of teacher brutality registered in schools across India. Babli wasn’t taken to the hospital until she fainted a few hours after vomiting furiously following the torture. Worse still, the school authorities didn’t even inform her guardians about the incident until after the child died.

Although this happened in 2009, there hasn’t been much of a change in the attitude of school authorities who continue to resort to corporal punishment, to ‘discipline’ students, in varying degree.

Abuse complaints not addressed

A RTI query filed by a Delhi-based activist, Umesh Gupta shockingly revealed less than a quarter of complaints alleging abuse by teachers in the past two years have been addressed by the national child rights body.

Ironically, the finding, that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has been unable to punish the violators, came less than a week after it issued the guidelines banning corporal punishment and warning strict action against those caught. The gravity of the situation can be deduced from the fact that NCPCR is the apex body overseeing the implementation of The Right to Education Act, 2009.

In the past two years, while 2,850 complaints had been filed with the commission, only 692 cases (24.3 per cent) were resolved, the RTI reply to Delhi social activist revealed. Between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, the commission was only able to solve 592 of 1,089 complaints, translating into a little over 54 per cent. Shockingly, in 2011-12, between April 1, 2011, and March 16, 2012 the commission could resolve a mere 100 of 1,761 complaints – barely six per cent.

Among all the cases filed, Rajasthan registered a maximum of 771 cases but only 455 of them were solved. Tamil Nadu dealt with only 40 per cent, 51 of the 128 complaints received.

In the case of Bengal, only one of 99 complaints was attended to, while not one of the 780 complaints from Andhra Pradesh was addressed; while, not a single complaint from Odisha (35), Haryana (17) and Assam (12) were addressed to.

Among the cases that were resolved, one reported was that of a child being beaten up by a teacher for not wearing the school tie in Uttar Pradesh where a notice was issued to the district magistrate.

In another case, a Class VII student of K.R. Mangalam School in Delhi, was detained in her class, a violation of the RTE act that says no child can be detained until Class VII. The principal of the school was issued a notice.

‘Will Be Punished, If Found Guilty’

Barely a month after the new NCPCR guidelines were formed in March 2012, an 11-year-old student of a civic school was hit by his teacher for “mischief” in a class in Bhayander. The student allegedly lost his balance and fell on the floor sustaining head injuries when hit by the teacher.

In another incident, Vishal Singh, a sixth standard student of a Hindi-medium municipal school, was allegedly hit by his teacher for being mischievous in class.

Vishal slipped and fell on the floor because and, in the process, hit his head on a sharp nail on the edge of the bench. He started bleeding profusely after which he was taken to a hospital where he was administered two stitches.

The incident led to a tumult among parents who demanded action against the said teacher. The teacher, however, refused to have hit the boy. The civic education department officials said the matter would be examined and action would be taken against the teacher if found guilty.

According to the new guidelines issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in March, schools should institute special monitoring cells that will embark on immediate action in cases of physical punishment or harassment.

The commission also suggests corporal punishment monitoring cells (CPMCs) should hear grievances related to corporal punishment within 48 hours of occurrence.

These new guidelines were issued by the child rights commission after a survey performed by them in 2009-10 revealed that over 80 per cent of students in schools across the country are humiliated by teachers who tell them that they are not capable of learning, according to a study conducted by national child rights body.

Reportedly, giving electric shocks to children has found mention in the yet-to-be released study on the practice of corporal punishment brought out by the NCPCR.

According to the survey, only nine out of 6,632 students in seven states who were surveyed denied that they received any kind of punishment in schools.

Nearly all children are punished

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights report says 99.86 per cent of children experience some kind of punishment. The Commission defines corporal punishment as physical punishment, mental harassment and discrimination of children causing both physical and mental harassment.

The survey examined the scale and magnitude of corporal punishment experienced by the Indian child in school, types of violent punishments in Indian schools and studied the prevalence of different types of punishments. The survey said 99.86 per cent of children reported having experienced some kind of punishment.

As many as 81.2 per cent children were subjected to outward rejection by being told that they were not capable of learning. “Getting beaten by a cane, being slapped, being hit on the back and ears and getting boxed are the other four major punishments,” according to the report.

“These four punishments do not lag behind much in terms of their occurrence. Out of the total, 75 per cent reported that they had been hit by a cane and 69 per cent had been slapped on their cheeks,” the survey said.

But the issuance of the new guidelines hardly seems like a deterrent for teachers resorting to such measures to punish children.

Reportedly, last month, a girl was gagged by a private school principal in Hyderabad for about four hours. The school has been issued a show-cause notice by the fifth additional metropolitan magistrate of juvenile court demanding them why action should not be taken against the school.

(Readers keen on seeking help on drafting RTI applications may write in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Gajanan Khergamker on 022-22841593 for any assistance on RTI or to have their findings / issue featured here)