The government recognition granted to a private school in Hyderabad, where a 4-year-old was allegedly raped for two months, should be cancelled immediately, and the students should be accommodated in other schools, Telangana’s Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy has ordered.
The minister has also ordered that a committee headed by Telangana’s Education Secretary should submit a report to the government on what security measures can be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
The committee will have as its members the Director of School Education, Secretary in the Women and Child Welfare Department and a senior officer dealing with protection of children against sexual offences. The report is to be submitted within a week.
The school in Banjara Hills area was shut after the incident became public. The driver of the school principal, accused of raping and sexually assaulting the child for over two months, was arrested on Wednesday. Later, the principal of the school, who was reported to have laughed off the complaint about abuse, and did not act on it, was also arrested, following protests by parents.
The parents had noticed behavioural changes in the child and when the mother enquired with the child, she realised that something was terribly wrong. The child had reportedly pointed to the driver who had access to the children inside the school.
The angry parents assaulted the driver and sat on a dharna in front of the Banjara Hills police station, after which an FIR was registered.
An investigation found that CCTVs in the school were not working, and also that the driver had often taken on the role of a teacher for the pre-primary section.
While the minister has intended to send a strong message to school managements about the importance that needs to be given to child safety, the order to close the school and shift the children has caused a lot of concern among parents and government officials too.
There are 700 students studying in the school and finding seats for them in other schools, that too in the middle of the academic year, is going to be a big challenge.
Though the minister has said the district education officer would address all the concerns of the students and parents, shutting the school and shifting them elsewhere does not seem a practical option, senior officials said.
Already, the law to prevent sexual crimes against children as well as guidelines to ensure child safety at home and in schools, mention in detail protocols to be followed. But regulation and implementation has been a challenge.
Social activist Padmashree awardee Sunitha Krishnan, who has been advocating for years now about the need for a public registry of known sexual offenders, reiterated the demand in the wake of the incident.
She said the database should be used while making appointments in schools and other institutions.
Telangana minister KT Rama Rao had responded positively to Ms Krishnan’s tweet and said the government was keen to act quickly on the matter.