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REALITIES: Never again...

At the mercy of a brutal system


If no one intervened, is it because this is considered normal?

Photo: K.R. Deepak

Time to change the system?

April 18, 2009, the first decade of the 21st century nearly done. The second General election of the decade began last week. And a 11-year-old girl is harassed by her teacher, harassed, abused and assaulted. She is dead, and the post-mortem report suggests there was no injury mark on her body! This is not Guantanamo bay or a police lockup death. This is a child who has been trustingly sent to school, who felt that her teachers are to be obeyed. No one denies that the girl was made to stand in the sun for two hours, no one is denying that the girl was made to stand with bricks on her back. What did Manju hope to accomplish? And is this how she and others educate students? Is this how they earn their wages?

If this has happened in the Corporation school compound, it must have happened in full glare of the other teachers and the headmaster or headmistress. And may be there were some others who would have seen this hapless child standing in the sun in the murga position.

Accepted practice?

Why did none raise a voice of protest or find a way of stopping the inhuman treatment? It must be because this is usual. It must be because you don’t question something that is seen daily. And certainly you don’t question if the child is not yours! And if this can happen in one school, such things may be happening in many schools.

One would like to suggest that children have endured a brutal system for too long! And if India cannot offer its children a safe environment in school, leave alone the other bookish trappings of education, it is the saddest commentary on our nation. One can hear of Akhil Dev’s brutalisation and say it was due to youth and the college was responsible for not acting. One hears of ragging all over the nation, in our premier and not so premier colleges; it saddens and alarms us. But Shanno, what did she do? What did she do for her teacher to have to punish her thus? And did the teacher have the right to treat this child or any other in this manner?

As an educator, I strongly condemn this action by the teacher and the mild response of the Law Minister as well. I would like The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to fulfil its mandate and launch an investigation into the practices in schools all over the nation. It is the mandate of the commission to:

• Compile and analyse data on children

• Promote the incorporation of child rights into the school curriculum, teachers training and training of personnel dealing with children.

I would like to suggest also that the following information must be made public, using papers and media, by the Commission, to inform children of their rights.

• The school must take complaints from children seriously and try to respond appropriately.

• The school must not endorse bullying and such other behaviour of students. In extreme cases the school may have to send students away from school.

• All children must know that they have rights — to be safe, to be protected and to be heard. No adult can take these rights away from them.

Extracts from the UN convention on the Rights of the Child convention must be publicised. (


We must say No, whatever it takes!

The author is Principal, The School-KFI, Chennai.

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