Students turn up for classes but find errant school closed

The Oxford English School on Nandini Layout, where the tuft of hair of some children admitted under the Right to Education quota for the disadvantaged children were snipped to distinguish them from the rest, remained closed on Thursday, even as protests were staged in front of it.

In the morning, children who came to the school were turned away by the watchman, who told them that classes were suspended.

The children and parents had believed that the school would reopen as other schools affiliated to the Karnataka Unaided School Managements Association (KUSMA), which had closed since Monday demanding clarity on RTE issues, called off the strike and reopened on Thursday.

Deputy Director of Public Instruction G.C. Chandraiah, who came for an inspection, returned without being able to meet the school authorities.

“I have been trying to contact school secretary Ajith Prabhu and got him on the line with great difficulty. When I asked him about the incident and why he did not open the school, his response was that it was closed owing to technical difficulties,” Mr. Chandraiah said.

D. Narayan, convener of the Dalitha Samrajya Sthapana Samiti, which had brought the incident to the media’s notice, said the episode was being made out to be an innocent prank played by some children.

“If it happened…by accident, why did it happen to only these children,” he asked. “Whether the teacher herself cut their hair or got some other children to do it is beside the issue. The fact is that these children were singled out.”

Asked whether the children would continue to study in the same school, he said their parents were keen on keeping them there and proving that they could do well.

‘Teacher watched’

Madeena Kausar said a classmate cut her hair and that of three others while the teacher watched. She did not know whether the teacher had asked the student to do so.

“The teacher did not say anything when we complained.”

The Nandini Layout police have filed a suo motu complaint against the school management under Sections 323 (Assault) and 504 (Intentional Insult Provoking Breach of Peace) of the IPC and Section 23 (Cruelty towards Children) of the Juvenile Justice (Law & Protection of Children) Act, 2000.

The inspector said the statements of the children and teachers would be recorded once the school reopened.

Action demanded

Congress MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao, who was part of the protest outside the school, along with Mahalakshmi Layout MLA N.L. Narendra Babu, demanded a thorough inquiry by the Education Department and the police, and action against the management for keeping the school shut.

Students of higher classes were annoyed that the school was in the media glare.

“Seeing my school’s name for all the wrong reasons on TV makes me feel embarrassed. I hope that my classes are back on track as soon as possible,” a Standard V student said.