Segregation of students on basis of religion or caste, calling them by their caste, religion or parental occupation and taunts from teacher of not being fit for education would amount to corporal punishment under the new definition of discrimination suggested by Sonia Gandhi headed National Advisory Council to the government.
The NAC on Monday asked the HRD ministry to come out with regulations under the watershed Right To Education (RTE) Act on corporal punishment with specifics on ways to end discrimination against students of weaker sections --- Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Minorities and Disabled --- in schools.
“The NAC has recommended a paradigm shift to deal with discrimination which has been weakly mentioned in the RTE Act,” said a NAC member, who was not willing to be quoted.
The recommendations comes in wakes of reports of children from weaker sections being segregated in government across in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and made to eat mid-day meal separately.
There have also been instances where children from disadvantaged sections were not allowed to play and use toilets in schools.
Even in private schools in Delhi, discrimination is reported against children admitted under 25% seats reserved for economically weaker sections.
The NAC wants course correction and has asked the government to bring an amendment in the RTE Act to explicitly state that discrimination against children belonging to “disadvantaged” groups would be a punishable offence.
It also has listed types of discrimination such as segregation or to make students clean classrooms specifically mentioned in the rules to prevent any inaction by school authorities in case of complaint especially by children getting admission under reservation prescribed in the RTE Act.
“Bringing social attitudes and prejudices of the community into the schools by using belittling remarks against a specific social group or gender or ability/disability,” should also be treated as discrimination in schools, the NAC has said.
The council on Monday was also of the view that the government should be asked immediately to implement the recommendation without waiting for amendments to the RTE law, which could take some time.
It also wanted that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights should be designated as the national body to monitor enforcement of provisions against corporal punishment including discrimination.
The NAC has also asked the government to come up with a policy for small and marginal farmers to set up cooperatives to compete in market with bigger farmers when Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retails becomes a reality.