With a total of 76,551 schools (government run, aided and unaided private schools)in the state, experts suggest that awareness level about the policy is quite low
Bangalore, 23 January, 2018: Bangalore city is yet to do anything substantial a year after the launch of the Karnataka State Child Protection Policy (KSCPP), an attempt to curtail incidents of sexual violence against children in schools.
“A lot of awareness needs to be spread and perhaps the education department needs to be more proactive. It will take a while for a new policy to actually sink in to the minds of people. So, spreading awareness along with strict implementation is required at this point of time,” said Dr Kripa Alva, Chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR).
According to the policy, every ‘safe school’ must have a child-centric approach and the active involvement of children in all school-related activities which would enable the children to express themselves in a safe environment.
It also states that, tinted windows on vehicles carrying school children are prohibited. It also insists that that all communications with children are child-friendly, age-appropriate and do not intimidate, offend, humiliate, or degrade their self-respect and dignity. The policy is applicable to all schools whether government, aided or non-aided, and those that come under CBSE, ICSE, and other boards, including international schools.
Moreover, each school is expected to have a child protection committee that will ensure all checklists are in place and will check if the school’s child protection measures need to be tweaked.
“Forget about the Child Protection Policy, schools that are in existence from the past 32 years do not follow Right to Education (RTE) Act in its true essence: how many teachers should be there, whether the transfer certificate should not be given to the parents and instead should be sent to the next school that the child is moving to; basic knowledge that they need to be aware of. So, the children being aware of the CPP – that was brought about by the education department over a year ago, is out of question,” Alva added.
“Just having a committee is not enough. Timely meetings should be carried out, and records of infrastructure of the schools and the meetings conducted- should be maintained online to keep the schools under the scanner. But most of the schools don’t even have parents-teachers association, and no records are maintained – which portrays an ignorance regarding the law,” said Shashi Kumar, Gen. Secretary of Associated Management of Private Schools in Karnataka (KAMS).
Not all bad
While some schools are having trouble in implementing the policy that is yet to pick up pace, some schools have been able to independently achieve a significant part in implementing it.
M Srinivasan, founder and chairman of Gear Innovative International School, said, “Even before the policy came out, we had committees to ensure safety of students in the school premises, but after the policy, we consolidated them into one committee. As part of the schooling system, we need to be alert in observing what is happening in the society and take preventive measures accordingly.”
“Initially, schools might have faced challenges regarding the mandatory installation of the CCTV cameras, doing away with the tinted glasses if they had any. But it’s all about the attitude; if the management is concerned about the well-being of its students, they’ll make sure that everything is fine,” he added.
MA Khan, principal, KK School, Verthur –which is a state board institution, added, “We formed the child protection committee four months back, and since then the committee has met thrice to make plans on orientation of the staff, and to create awareness amongst the faculty and the students.”
PC Jaffer, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said, “Child Protection Policy is approved by the State Cabinet, and largely, these are issues aimed against humanly created problems/disasters mainly sexual abuse. Another guideline issued by the Supreme Court, and recommended by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is intended towards natural and man-made disasters. This again, is something that we are supposed to implement. So combining both the things, we have issued the new rules which the schools are mandated to follow.”