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Here is the story of a frog: A scientist decided to test the resilience of a frog. He placed the frog in cold water and gradually increased the temperature of the water. Surprisingly, the frog just lay there, completely oblivious to its changing surroundings—till it was boiled to death!
A spate of incidents in Bangalore schools
Bangalore witnessed a brutal rape of a two-year-old by a bus-driver a few months back. A furore arose; a few activists wrote about it and protested. And then Bangalore was once again riddled with shock in July 2014, when a 6-year-old was raped in broad daylight in a “well-endowed” school. Note the word “well-endowed”; parents were paying tens of thousands of rupees for a pre-nursery school education. The city cried hoarse and protests racked the streets. Schools were closed down and “security measures” were upped.
About 12 weeks later, there was yet another case of child sexual abuse reported from another upscale school—a 3-year-old child was raped within the school premises by an attendant. This time it was even scarier. The police investigation confirmed that the school had 80% of all recommended security measures in place. Yet, the child was raped in broad daylight within the school premises.
A few questions here:
- What security measures were in place and what procedures were circumvented by the attendant?
- How could stringent enforcement of such measures let this happen? Does this mean that enforcement is only on paper?
- If 80% of security measures were in place, does it mean that the security measures are plain insufficient and inefficient?
- How did the child happen to be alone in such a touted school? How long was she alone for?
- The child parents were brave to report the incident. How many such cases go unreported?
While we search for answers, we uncover the deep filth that lays not only in providing security measures in the school, but also in providing education itself.
The school had the permissions to run classes only up to Grade 6. Amid protests and concerns from worried parents, the Education Department has agreed to let the school run till the end of this academic year.
What followed is utterly disheartening, distasteful and has the potential to give us an idea of the true extent of the rut. It also has the potential to leave us hanging by the tether.
6th graders asked to say that they belong to 5th grade
Citizen Matters reached out to the school in question to confirm the series of events with respect to the 6th grade students. The school stated that the Principal was busy at a Teachers Training at the time and would call back once she was available.
Here is an account of the events that happened in chronological order. These events are particularly true for the branch of the school in BTM Layout, which runs classes up to 6th grade.
Tuesday October 21st: The child is raped in the Jalahalli branch of the school.
Wednesday October 22nd through Sunday Oct 26th: Schools remain closed on account of Deepavali.
Wednesday October 22nd: The offender, an attendant is detained and school is pulled up for running classes without due permits.
Sunday October 26th: The school sends an email to parents of its students in other branches that all is well and they should have their wards resume school as usual on Monday.
Monday October 27th: Exam day in school (2nd language as per the original timetable).
On the same day, children witness the following:
- Teachers taking the Identity cards of all 6th graders and hiding them in lockers (behind a pile of books, to be precise).
- The door title reading 6th grade being replaced by a board reading ‘5th grade, Section B’.
- All 6th graders instructed to affirm that they belong to Grade 5 in case of enquiries.
- 6th graders given the exam sheets of 4th graders and asked to act as if they are writing an exam.
- The above set of lies was reinforced by three different teachers, including the Vice-Principal of the school, over and over again, through the day.
- The school also saw the Principal for only for a week after classes resumed. After that, the lady in question seems to have disappeared.
Tuesday October 28th: To test the ‘security’ measures, I entered the school in the morning while many kids were being dropped off. I went in till up to the girls’ restroom. Though I passed several teachers, attendants, students and office-bearers on my way inside, I was not stopped and questioned by anyone. This is really not that surprising given that their CCTV monitors were placed beneath a flight of stairs and were being monitored only by a few excited kids testing themselves on ‘TV’.
Tuesday October 28th: Parents receive another email informing them that the school has a new Principal.
Should schools be made more answerable?
This brings forth some more questions:
- How did the school manage to resume classes without the required permissions?
- Why is it an accepted norm that schools can start, apply for permissions, run classes and eventually get those permissions in a time-span of three to four years?
- Why does it take so long to get the required permissions? In this time, what exactly does the School Inspector inspect every year? What does the Block Education Officer sign off on?
- Why does the State Government insist on giving licenses only for Kannada medium instruction, knowing full-well the rising demand for English-medium education, thereby providing a perfect breeding ground for corruption?
- How is the parent enabled to know about the school’s status of sanctions, that is, apart from hearing it from the school? Is there a reliable government portal that is kept updated on the status of school permissions?
- Why are the parents kept in the dark about the qualifications, and histories of the staff the school hires? Many schools boast of a portal for parents and sophisticated software to maintain data about the children. How difficult is it to share staff profiles with parents?
- The schools are allowed to partner with another school for board exams and carry their names on their certificates. Why is this so rampant, as opposed to being an exception?
In all this, one thing is clear. The purpose of education has long lost its noble cause. It has instead been replaced by double-dealings, lies and cover-ups on the part of institutions, even when children are at a very tender and impressionable age.
If you are wondering why I told you the story about the frog in the beginning, it is only to ask ourselves, “Are we the frogs in the story? How long before we are destroyed ourselves?”
The opinions and the event explained here are the author’s own. Citizen Matters or Oorvani Foundation do not take ownership of the views or facts in the article.