The Punjab Child Rights Commission (PCRC) was reportedly stopped from exercising its authority during a surprise visit by one its member Jaswinder Singh to Saint Joseph School on Friday.
High drama prevailed at the school after PCRC member Jaswinder Singh made a surprise visit along with district education officers Harkanwaljit Kaur (senior secondary) and Amarjit Kaur (elementary).
Interestingly, school authorities had ranged the final bell and children had left to home before the commission team reached the school.
The team asked for the reason for ringing the final bell before the scheduled time, but the school authorities failed to give any satisfactory answer.
The school authorities reportedly did not cooperate with the team and the principal left his office and made a call to an advocate. The PCRC team found that the attitude of the school authorities and their advocate was inappropriate. Principals of some other schools also reached Saint Joseph School and reportedly questioned the authority of the commission member to check the school.
Before visiting Saint Joseph, the PCRC team had made a surprise visit to Delhi Public School (DPS). The team members did not find proper sanitation arrangements in DPS for the children. The quality of food being given to children was also found "substandard", while the food quality in the girls' hostel was poorer.
The panel team reportedly found fungus-infested food at DPS. There was no proper boundary around the girls' hostel and required number of staff was also not present on duty.
Some drivers of the schools buses were found without driving licence. The commission team took serious note of it in the light of tragic road accidents involving school buses in recent months across Punjab. It did not find any first-aid corner at DPS.
"I am not sure but it could be possible that our visit to DPS had alerted Saint Joseph school authorities and they ranged the final bell before scheduled time so that we could not see children," said Jaswinder Singh.
He added that, "I am surprised that school authorities were not aware of the authority of the commission. I will write to the Bathinda police and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to take appropriate action against the school authorities for intentionally interfering in the commission's functioning."
"I will also write against DPS for large-scale violations in the school. I am surprised that the arrangements were so poor at DPS. They charge Rs. 1.5 lakh per student annually for hostel but we found fungus in many food items stored in refrigerator. We have collected the samples," said Jaswinder.
Jaswinder was appointed member of the Punjab Child Rights Commission on January 16 last year and the commission came to existence in 2011.
Member Jaspal Singh said he will make more such surprise visits to schools in coming days.