A day after state education minister, Naeem Akhtar gave his 1:30 hours long speech in state legislative assembly for giving quality education to children of state, his administrative section is still not clear with how many cases of child abuse and corporeal punishment were reported from its schools (Government as well as Private) in the last one year.
Shaleen Kabra, Secretary to government for school education department, Tuesday directed his officers to act “strict” and “remain vigilant” in reporting all physical as well as mental abuse cases in government and private schools, over a video conference meeting held across 14 districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
The meeting was held to monitor the rate of punishment for the child abuse cases across the state.
The meeting was held in the back drop of recent photographs that went viral on social networking sites, in which a girl child of class 3rd was beaten up by an ReT, showing torture marks and swollen hands, in district Reasi.
Following the incident, the department sent notices to all Chief Education Officers (CEO) and nodal officers, who are exclusively dealing with abuse cases, to report all abuses cases from their areas.
To the disappointment of Secretary, only a few cases, three districts from Jammu and five from Kashmir reported child abuse and corporeal punishment cases.
He further extended the deadline and asked nodal officers, to work for child abuse and corporeal punishment cases only, and report by June 28. He ordered his officers to write one page note on each case.
Meanwhile an order issued by his office reads, “A robust system should be set up where every case of this nature gets reported, action should be taken in form of an inquiry, then action should take place, a disciplinary or legal whichever is needed, and this process should be taken to conclusion.”
From Kashmir division, Dr Shah Faesal, Director School Education, informed the meeting that five fresh cases were reported in last ten days.
“In one incident reported from a school in Baramulla, child abuse case was later changed by ZEO to a quarrel between two groups of students,” he told meeting.
“In Pulwama, a molestation case was reported from a school and later, we received a group of teachers in our office, who said there was some confusion between teacher and the student.”
In addition to these two incidents in government run schools, Dr Shah Faesal said that two more cases were reported from “Srinagar’s reputed private schools”.
After listening to the “grave situation”, the J&K Education sector’s top official directed his officers that “no reconciliation should happen at any level”.
“Such cases should get reported and maximum punishment should be given to such teachers as per the laws available in the state. Either send these teachers to jail or put them under suspension,” he directed his officers.” Dignity of child is our responsibility; it must be our concern!”
From the district office Jammu, Manjali, representing a child help line – 1098, informed the meeting that her NGO is presently having five active lines in Poonch, Jammu, Udhampur, Srinagar, and Islamabad, where her team reaches within 60 minutes of a complain received.
“So far, we have received only 5 to 6 cases in Jammu and same number of cases from Srinagar,” said Manjali. She said her NGO also provides follow-up to the cases.
Save the Children Kashmir head, Muhammad Sharief, who was also present in the meeting, said, “We have many cases reported from Srinagar and Islamabad districts and we are working for a joint policy, in collaboration with the directorate of education.”