Parents recount harrowing experience faced in schools at RTE meet

Two schoolteachers in Ramakunja, Puttur, told a teenaged student to write answers to a question 1,321 times as “punishment”. After that, the student stopped watching TV and playing, claimed Bhanuchandra Krishnapura, parent of the student. There was no response to the complaint he filed against the two teachers. He said that physical punishment was in some sense “ok” but mental torturing by meting out such punishments was worse.

He was speaking of the rights of a child in school at a public discourse on the Right to Education (RTE) Act, organised by the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), PADI, a non-governmental organisation, Dakshina Kannada Human Rights Education and Protection Committee, and Child Labour Protection Committee, Karnataka, in the city on Tuesday.

Other parents and block education officers (BEOs) spoke of how children’s rights were being flouted in the district. One parent described how students in a private school in the district were asked to pay Rs.150 each for breaking a bulb. After paying the amount, each child was asked to lift his hands and ask for forgiveness for breaking the bulb. One student, who happened to be Dalit, said he would not ask for pardon because he had not broken any bulb and had, anyway, paid for the bulb. He was abused and called out by his caste name. After that, the student never returned to school, he alleged.

A BEO from Pallipady, Bantwal, said that a school had displayed a board claiming it was English medium when it was not so. He said all the students went there despite English classes and other measures taken by the government school to attract and retain students. The latter school’s strength has reduced from 350 to 75, he alleged.

Alwyn D’Souza, parent of a child with autism, said that he had a harrowing time while admitting his son into a school. The student was labelled by teachers and not allowed to write exams accompanied by his mother, he alleged.

SDMCs are not aware of RTE and children of migrant workers studying in Dakshina Kannada schools go on leave and never return and the government does not track them, said two other speakers.