Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Now and then there has been reports of excesses in private schools of Rayagada like exorbitant donation collection, selling of books and other teaching & learning materials not prescribed by government authorities like educational board, SCERT & NCERT, lack of trained staff, sexual harassment, violating statutory Acts and guidelines promulgated by Government, insecurity of the students in the school, etc. Responding to these lapses, earlier Collector Mrs Guha Punam Tapas Kumar mooted to have special squads to ensure minimum quality standards in these privately managed schools in Rayagada.
Keeping her commitment, Guha has facilitated a day long sensitization ensuring child safe environment in private managed schools in the entire Rayagada district. Sri Muralidhar Swain, who is presently officiating as District Education Officer, welcomed the august gathering, rendered the introductory speech and emphasized on adhering to strictures prescribed by the govt from time to time so that a safety net is maintained at school level.
Giving her inaugural speech, Collector Guha appreciated the entrepreneurial acumen of the promoters of the private educational institutions exsisting in Rayagada. As most of the schools follow either ICSE or CBSE syllabus, it helps the students to compete at national level. But more than curriculum and syllabus, value education is an indicator of education excellence. The schools must implement the acts like Rights to Education(RTE) Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses(POCSO) Act, recently amended Person with Disability(PwD) Act, etc in true spirit. There should not be any differentiation in use of infrastructure like toilets between teachers and students. For the safety and security of children supreme court guidelines should be strictly followed. To contain sexual offences inside the school campus can not be tolerated. The school should not only have functional CCTVs but also the footage must be regularly checked and necessary action initiated. The School Management Committee(SMC), Parents Teachers Association(PTA) & other grievance redressal mechanisms are to be in place and their regular meetings need to be ensured and documents kept as evidence. Internal Complaint Committee(ICC) needs to be constituted. Regular inspection by Principal, parents, common citizens and Govt authorities should be done to ensure that the school is child friendly. She warned that corporal punishment would not be tolerated by the monitoring authorities. She suggested this sensitization workshop to be a benchmark to ensure minimum quality standards in the schools.
The workshop was attended by Sri Prabir Kumar Nayak, Sub-Collector, Rayagada & Sri Amrit Ruturaj, Sub-Collector, Gunupur. Sri Jugal Kishore Mishra, Principal, DIET, Rayagada harped on RTE Act in details alongwith central and state guidelines/notifications on school safety and education with special reference to child protection. Sri Subrat Kumar Panda, State Programme Manager, Life Skill Education, STSCRTI, ST & SC Development Department explained on life skill education, good touch & bad touch. Sri Sisir Das(Rtd), Ex-Coordinator, OPEPA spoke on rights of the persons with disability with a special reference to the penal provisions in violation of Act and Rules-Do’s and Don’ts. Sri Pramod Kumar Acharya, Senior Research Associate, National Law University explained about POCSO Act-2012 and punishment for its violation. Each plenary session followed with discussion with the participants and clarifications & feedbacks from them. The sessions were also interspersed with cultural programmes by school students. Sri Ramesh Chandra Nayak, District Child Protection Officer, Rayagada gave vote of thanks.