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Corporal Punishment case in Guwahati : Teachers threaten students to change version

Saumya Mishra | December 22, 2017 16:47 hrs

•  Students of the government school claimed they were threatened to change their version in an undertaking 
•  They said that an unknown man visited their school and threatened them
•   NCPCR had taken cognisance of the matter and asked for a report in the case from state education department
•  Activists say threatening children is a scary trend
•  Child protection authorities feel all teachers should be educated on laws related to child welfare
•  Government is yet to submit the inquiry report to NCPCR despite two reminders 

The case of corporal punishment in a government school in the city, which drew the attention of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), saw an unexpected turn of events during the past week.

Two girl students of Bamunimaidam Sarkari Nimna Buniyadi Vidyalaya, of which three teachers have been accused of repeated corporal punishment, claimed that they were threatened to write undertakings stating that the teachers did not beat them and only made them understand verbally whenever they made a mistake.

Talking to G Plus, one of the girls who were allegedly made to write the undertaking said that a school teacher came to their houses and called them to school on December 18. She said that on reaching the school, they found an “unknown man” in the school with their teachers. 

“He threatened us to write that the teachers do not use any physical punishment in the school and only verbally explain to us when we do something wrong. We were scared and wrote what we were told,” said the 13-year-old student.

She added that they were asked to write in Assamese by their teachers. The other girl described the man as being “tall, bespectacled, buck-toothed with big eyes.”

The students informed that till a few months ago, the teachers used to beat them with rulers. However, instances of corporal punishment got reduced after the complaint was filed.

On the other hand, the District Elementary Education Officer of Kamrup (Metro), Buli Gogoi, denied having any knowledge about the incident.

The NCPCR took cognisance of the matter after a complaint was filed in March this year against three teachers of the school. A city-based child rights activist, Miguel Das Queah, had filed the first complaint in the case in September 2016 to the state education minister and to the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR).

However, no action was taken by the authorities. Further, Queah said that in March this year, two girl students came to his office and told him that they did not want to attend school because teachers used to beat them.

He then wrote a letter to the NCPCR which took cognisance of the matter and asked for a report in the case from the state education department.

Further, the national panel had also sent a reminder to the state elementary education department earlier this month seeking a report within 10 days.

“This trend of threatening children is very scary. We still don’t know who the person was who threatened the children but there are strong chances that the accused teachers are trying to save themselves from facing punishment,” said Queah.


Need to educate teachers on child rights: Authorities  

Child protection authorities in the state feel that all school teachers need to be educated on laws related to the welfare of children.

Former Chairperson of the ASCPCR, Rumini Gogoi said, “Teachers should be provided training about child rights. A majority of them are not aware about the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Right to Education Act (RTE).”

She also mentioned that corporal punishment still continues unchecked in many schools and a majority of cases often go unreported.     

Another official working in the field of child rights said that the education department should converge with the social welfare department to combat various forms of child abuse. The age-old concept of children being seen as objects of control has to end, he said.         

When a complaint was filed with the ASCPCR in December last year, the then chairperson, Rumini Gogoi, had visited the school and had reprimanded the teachers. “I had held a meeting with the principal and teachers but as per my knowledge, corporal punishment continued in the school even after that,” she said.  


Govt yet to submit report to NCPCR   

Even after two reminders from the NCPCR, the state government is yet to submit its report to the national panel. In its most recent reminder to the department of elementary education, the NCPCR stated that it will be compelled to serve a summon to the department in case of non-compliance of its order.   

The District Elementary Education Officer, Buli Gogoi, said that they are still conducting an inquiry into the matter.

On the other hand, the SCPCR which was also supposed to have received a report in the case is also awaiting it.

“We have not received any information till now. As soon as we receive the report, we will immediately intervene,” said SCPCR Chairperson, Sunita Changkakoti.  

Activists are also pushing for a law against corporal punishment. The Corporal Punishment for Educational Institutions (Prohibition) Bill was presented before the state assembly in 2010 but it could not be passed due to the opposition from some teachers’ associations.

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