Says minor incident in the crafts class was ‘exaggerated’

The management of the Oxford English School on Friday tendered an unconditional apology taking “moral responsibility” for the cutting of tufts of hair of some children admitted under the Right to Education quota for the underprivileged during a class, while maintaining it was an accident and not an act of discrimination.

School correspondent Ajith Prabhu, who held an impromptu press conference when the school reopened on Friday after staying shut for four days, said: “I would like to take moral responsibility for the incident that happened inside my premises and would like to tender my deepest and most sincere apologies to everyone who was hurt due to the incident.”

He, however, maintained that the incident on last Friday in a crafts class had been “greatly exaggerated”.

In crafts class

He said that the incident had occurred while the teacher in the crafts class had turned towards the board. The parents of other children whose hair had also been cut (not under RTE quota) had taken it lightly. He went on to allege that the father of the child admitted under RTE quota manhandled the father of the boy who had cut the hair of children. He accused women members of Dalit Samrajya Sthapana Samithi (DSSS) of barging into the First Standard classroom and abusing and manhandling the teacher. Also Narayan of the DSSS had threatened the school.

Mr. Narayan, in the meanwhile, denied the charge and said that his organisation at an earlier occasion had only demanded that the school treat the children under quota equally. “Is it hooliganism to ask to be treated fairly?” he asked.

Teaching the basics

Mr. Prabhu defended the school’s practice of not giving regular homework to those under RTE quota because they “did not know the [English] alphabet also”. He claimed that the children were being taught from basics to bring them on a par with the rest of the class. The school had never discriminated against children in the name of community or race in the last 35 years.

Earlier in the day, there was some fracas in front of the school as Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) activists tried to stage a protest. The police took them into custody. Parents who had come to drop off their wards added to the melee by accusing the media of “blowing up a small incident out of proportion”.

According to sources in the Education Department, the report submitted by officials to the Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education cites the school management admitting to “minor lapses” because the children under quota were admitted late — such as providing uniforms and books on time — while denying that any teacher or any member of the school management was involved in the hair-cutting incident. The report has recorded the statements of the children allegedly discriminated against.