Eight-year-old Kunal Subhas cleans and sweeps the floor of his classroom and picks up garbage every day. Hemant, when he was in Class 7, suffered a permanent injury due to negligence of the school authorities.
Muskan, a Class 9 student, who is a Muslim and entitled to scholarship, is yet to receive any from her school.
Out of more than 800 such cases lodged by students, parents and ordinary citizens against government schools in Trolikpuri and Kalyanpuri, around 25 cases were presented before a five-member jury panel chaired by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Shantha Sinha.
The NCPCR and Joint Operation for Social Help jointly conducted a public hearing on violations against the Right to Education (RTE) Act on Wednesday at Trilokpuri.
Over 1,400 people attended the first-ever public hearing in Delhi on issues relating to negligence of school authorities, corporal punishment, denial of admissions and scholarships, quality of education and poor quality mid-day meal.
The commission summoned officials from directorate of education, medical superintendent of Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital and the Delhi Jal Board specifically for the hearing.
Principals and teachers from the schools in Trilokpuri were also present.
“Once when I visited my son's school I spotted the teachers playing cards in the library. When I approached the principal, he shooed me away,” said a woman, whose child in spite of being in Class 6 can barely write his name. The principal, on being questioned, said he did not know how many teachers were present on a particular day and whether they take any classes or not.
More than 200 complaints were about non-functional and dirty toilets. The jury asked the administration to submit a report on the status of toilets. “The attitude of the government officials have been particularly shocking. Insensitive remarks such as ‘these children are not interested in studying’ when asked about infrastructure problems and ignorance about the RTE act highlighted their apathetic attitude,” said Kiran Bhatty, national coordinator, RTE Division, NCPCR.
“The principals and the government officials did not expect this sort of a hearing. It was heartening to see the people coming out in large numbers to testify. It shows how keen they are to educate their children. It is high time the government got its act together and addressed the issues raised,” said Sinha.
In addition to issuing case-wise directions, the NCPCR also issued a set of general recommendations to the state on developing a school safety policy and a school health policy.