Few schools appear to be aware of the comprehensive manual on the safety and security of children in schools, a year after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) brought out the guidelines in the wake of reports of sexual abuse of children in school premises.
Among the measures are ensuring police verification of school employees and staff to prevent abuse of school children; grievance committee for sexual abuse, which should include 25% students, 50% management representatives and teachers, and 25% PTA members; and at least 20 sessions of psychological counselling for every student.
Recently, based on directions from the NCPCR, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) sent out a circular to schools to assess themselves on security measures provided in the premises by referring to a questionnaire provided in the manual. The NCPCR manual has a list of 164 questions, which cover infrastructure, hygiene, psychological issues, among other parameters, for assessing children’s safety in schools.
According to the circular, schools must answer these questions, assess themselves and send a report to the Block Education Officers (BEOs). This is when it emerged that not many schools had implemented the measures, nor were many aware of the manual.
“Most schools resist such interventions. They also tend to have wrong ideas about the guidelines. Often, they are under the impression that it is focussed only on penalising teachers. We need a lot of measures to be taken to impart them with knowledge about the safety and security measures,” said Vasudeva Sharma, a child rights activist.
D. Shashi Kumar from the Private School Managements Federation added that schools were confused as there were several guidelines issued by different authorities. “One comprehensive set of guidelines will make it easier for schools to follow these measures,” he said. At the moment, apart from the basic security measures that private schools provided, not all of them have all the prescribed measures in place, he added.
Bengaluru North District Headmasters and Composite PU Colleges Association secretary V. Suresh said, “I could say that there is 50% implementation. There are several small schools and some new ones which require orientation. A training from the government’s end on the same would be helpful.”
Among the measures prescribed are
Ensuring police verification of employees and staff to prevent abuse of school children
Grievance committee for sexual abuse, which should include 25% students, 50% management representatives and teachers, and 25% PTA members
At least 20 sessions of psychological counselling for every student
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