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HindustanTimes Fri,26 Dec 2014

Swedish NGO fights against corporal punishment

HT Correspondent  Dehradun, March 08, 2014
First Published: 16:30 IST(8/3/2014) | Last Updated: 16:38 IST(8/3/2014)
Dehradun: A global Swedish NGO is making efforts to end corporal punishment in schools here.
SPARKE (Supporting Positive Alternative for Raising Kindness in Education) was initially started as a pilot project in 2007 by SOIR-IM (Swedish Organisation for Individual Relief).

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In its third phase now, the project aims to develop a reference book or teaching guide on practical alternatives to corporal punishment for teachers, a short animated video and a comic book for junior students.

Presently, 24 schools in the Himalayan region are participating in this project. These include 15 in India and nine in Nepal. Out of these, five are in Dehradun.
“Corporal punishment in government and private schools is deeply ingrained as a tool to discipline the children. It perpetuates the cycle of violence as it teaches the kid to accept violence, said a SPARKE official.

The project aims to increase democratic development at the schools, reduce bullying and corporal punishment in the classrooms and to improve the school’s physical environment.

A study carried out by the Child Line India Foundation between 2009 and 2011 found that students experienced corporal punishment in 95% of the 198 schools in the 11 states where the study was carried out.

Prior to the launch, the SPARKE project found that 83.3 % of the teachers had used corporal punishment. The modes of punishment included forcing children to stay in uncomfortable or painful positions, twisting ears, slapping, pinching, caning or kicking children. The students were also given verbal punishments. Prior to the project, 72.28% of the teachers wanted to find alternatives to corporal punishment and 87.74% though that the teaching staff needed training in alternative disciplining methods.

Project Coordinator of SPARKE project Tenzin Lhawang said the workshops are being continuously held at the schools under this project. Corporal punishment is prohibited in schools under the right to free and compulsory education act 2009.


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‘Central aid to state rose in past 3 yrs, but growth slow’

The annual assistance from the Centre to the state has increased in last few financial years, according to official statistics, even though the Uttarakhand government has been firing salvos at the central government over it.
 
Two days ago, the state Congress unit demanded `4,000 crore financial assistance from the centre.
According to the central statistics office figures, the Centre released `4883.74 crores for the state in 2011-12. It released `4717.68 crores in 2012-2013. And in 2013-2014, it increased the assistance to `5418.60 crores.

Uttarakhand is one of the 11 Himalayan states which enjoy special category status besides Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
 
These special category states have to make part payment to the centre in lieu of getting funds for centrally-sponsored schemes.
Interestingly, on an average, central assistance has been substantial for the state though it has not helped Uttarakhand in increasing its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) which is total monetary value of goods and services produced by a state economy in a given year.
“GSDP depends on various factors like rate of savings and investments and overall business atmosphere. But that doesn’t mean the state does not need help,” said Surender Kumar, media in-charge for CM adding that the state needs more funds.
 
The figures for Uttarakhand GSDP growth at constant (2004-5) price (as on 01-08-2014) was 9.36% in 2011-12. It was 5.61% in 2012-13 and 5.65% in 2013-2014.
 
Sometime back Planning Commission constituted a committee to study development in hill states arising from management of forest land with special focus on creation of infrastructure, livelihood and human development.
 
The report of the committee was discussed in Internal Planning Committee meeting held in February this year.
A Planning Commission note claimed that IPC broadly endorsed the recommendations of the committee. The report has also been forwarded to states for further inputs.

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