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DoE to revisit guidelines on children’s safety

DoE to revisit guidelines on children’s safety

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18 Oct 2019 No comment 12 hits

Panaji: The department of education (DoE) will revisit its guidelines on ‘Safety and security of children’ as issued in May 2015 to the managements of schools in the state, following the incidents of molestation/ sexual misconduct in schools raising their ugly head recently.

A lady teacher from government school in Canacona has filed a complaint of sexual misconduct against the headmaster of the same school, while a couple of girl students from a Kundaim-based government high school have come out with complaints of molestation against their teacher.

The ‘Safety and security of children’ guidelines clearly stated under the sub-heading ‘eve teasing/ sexual abuse’: “These are becoming serious issues as incidents get reported from schools and nearby places. Children should be taught early to differentiate between ‘good touch/ bad touch’ and encouraged to speak out at the first instance. It vests totally with the teachers to ensure that the schools are safe in this regard. The headmaster/ principal and teachers must ensure that all parts of school are accessible to everyone and there are no secluded/ isolated areas. Also the teachers should be sensitised to deject such an occurrence if the child displays any sign, which may include investigating sudden absence or unusual behaviour.”

Meanwhile, the department of education has asked for the report prepared by the Vishakha committee of the Canacona-based school. The department has also conducted its internal inquiry as regards the incidents in the Kundaim-based government high school, and forwarded the matter to the police. “In fact, the school headmaster even went to the Ponda police station and the police have registered a first information report pertaining to the case following the department’s insistence,” informed a DoE source, pointing out that the police will now have to pursue the case.

The department of education is also considering various measures for stricter implementation of these guidelines in schools. In fact, these guidelines under the sub-heading ‘Teachers and staff’ maintained: “There should be a conscious attempt to have at least one female teacher in every school. Head teachers and principals must be asked to supervise the other teachers and ensure that no child is abused in any manner by the staff or even by elder students.” 

These guidelines further stated: “The schools must verify the antecedents of not only all the teachers but also other contractual and subordinate staff deployed in schools with the help of local police.”

A review of the past sexual abuse/ molestation cases in schools from Goa indicates that quite a few teachers have been involved in such heinous acts.

In 2011, Kanhaiya Naik, a drawing teacher from a city school picked up a minor girl student from her residence stating that he would give her career guidance and took her to his flat at Ribandar, where he clicked photographs of the girl and also allegedly molested her. After being arrested in 2012 by the police in the rape case, he managed to get bail. The girl committed suicide during this period and the accused was then arrested for abetting the suicide. He was subsequently sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment.

In 2012, a teacher was arrested for allegedly molesting a 14-year-old girl student at a school near Shiroda village. The school authorities filed police complaint on Teachers Day, alleging that the girl student had complained that she was molested by the teacher on August 30, 2012.

In January 2013, a ten-year-old girl studying in class III in a reputed school at Mangor Hill, Vasco was allegedly molested by an unknown person. The case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by the government to trace the culprit, after the state crime branch and Goa police failed to arrest any person for over six months. No one was arrested in the matter.

In 2013, a committee was formed by the government, chaired by Vishnu Wagh, to suggest ways for avoiding offences of rape or sexual attacks on minors in schools. It came out with an elaborate report, with recommendations including making sex education a compulsory part of school curriculum. “Parents should also be educated in this aspect,” a recommendation stated, while other recommendations spoke of various measures like CCTV cameras, security guards, and compound wall for schools.

In 2015, a physical education teacher from a Sanguem-based high school was accused of molesting a girl student during school picnic. The accused while being investigated by the Sanguem police was suspended from the service by the department of education, following a hearing in the office of the DoE, in the presence of the chairman and the manager of the school as well as the teacher.

In 2016, the Bicholim police arrested a physical education teacher from government high school, located at Shirgao-Bicholim, for allegedly molesting a minor girl student. Police arrested the accused under Section 354 (molestation) of Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Section 8 of Goa Children’s Act and Section 8 of POCSO Act. The DoE found the accused teacher prima facie guilty and forwarded the case to the directorate of sports authorities.

Source: DoE to revisit guidelines on children’s safety

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