School withdraws rules after education dept probe

July 06, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 04:56 am IST - Shoumojit Banerjee

Controversial rulebook by Pune school imposed fear, aimed at making money: Parents

A city school withdrew its controversial guidelines for students after the State Education Department on Thursday ordered an investigation into them.

The allegedly stringent 30-page rulebook brought out by MAEER’s MIT Vishwashanti Gurukul School was contested by some parents after it mandated that girl students wear only white or beige innerwear and bloomers every day.

The rules, termed ‘diktats’ by protesting parents, also restricted time for washroom usage and prohibited the use of lipstick, lip gloss or any other cosmetic, as well as tattoos, for girl students. It mandated that girls wear only round studs not bigger than 0.3 cm on each earlobe and stipulated their skirts be of a certain length.

The school withdrew the rulebook after State Education Minister Vinod Tawde ordered an investigation and sent a team under Deputy Director of Education Meenakshi Raut to the institute.

The rulebook’s presentation in the form of an affidavit elicited sharp criticism from parents.“While enforcing discipline is commendable, no institute ought to lay down such rigid rules,” Mr. Tawde said, speaking in Nagpur during the monsoon session of the Assembly.

The guidelines mentioned the applicability of IPC sections 199 (false statement made in declaration), 200 (using as true such declaration knowing it to be false) and 202 (intentional omission to give information) if parents gave false information about their children.

“The rules were laid down for the security of the students. Our intention was pure; it was to avoid unpleasant incidents. We had no hidden agenda whatsoever as some parents have hinted,” said Dr. Suchitra Karad-Nagare, Executive Director, MIT Group of Institutes. She said the institute had always welcomed dialogue with parents. A senior MIT official, requesting anonymity, said the rules were formulated to preclude any untoward incident involving girl students.

“We have received reports where girl students complained of not being addressed respectfully by the boys. There have also been cases where students have misguided the authorities by giving wrong numbers of their wards. Are the school authorities or the parents responsible in such cases? Hence the rules,” said the official.

However, some of the parents disputed the institute’s claims. “It read like a law book and not a rule book. How can an institution regulate a time for drinking water? The rulebook has imposed fear upon students and is a money-making exercise on the institute's part,” said a parent, requesting anonymity. The rules levied a Rs. 1,500 cycle-parking fee while making helmets compulsory. Local MNS activists took up the cause, while vernacular channels decried the school’s guidebook as “a form of dictatorship”.

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