Concerned over instances of molestation and sexual harassment of women teachers working in government schools across Punjab, the director general of school education has issued a set of instructions to ensure the safety and security of female teaching staff.
"A majority of teachers working with the education department are women; therefore, it is our responsibility to make proper arrangements to ensure their security on school premises," DGSE Kahan Singh Pannu said in a communiqué.
Admitting that many incidents of molestation, physical and mental harassment had come to the notice of the education department in recent months in government schools and offices, Pannu directed district education officers and school principals to take serious note of such incidences.
The DGSE said most complaints were received from single women teachers posted in primary schools, especially in remote places.
Post male teachers in remote areas: DGSE
Pannu has asked district education authorities to give priority to male teachers over women staff for postings in remote areas, and also not to summon women teachers who were on leave to the education department offices for official work at odd hours.
"The chances of immoral activities increase in schools where male and female teachers are posted. Therefore, we have directed DEOs not to post a single woman teacher in any school and instead prefer to post at least two women teachers," he said.
For the security of single teachers in primary schools, the authorities had requested panchayats to open anganwari centres in school premises, Pannu said.
Eve-teasing after school hours needs to be checked
Pannu said that it had also came to notice that groups of youths passed comments on women teachers after school hours, especially in villages, putting teachers in embarrassing situation. Moreover, school managements and committees often misbehaved with women teachers, he said.
"Block primary education officers (BPEO) have been directed to identify such schools and hold meetings with managements to discuss the problem of women teachers and also to seek cooperation from local panchayats to end such hooliganism after school hours," the DGSE said.
Sexual harassment panels to be set up in BPEOs offices
In an attempt to keep check on such incidents, the education department has instructed BPEOs to constitute sexual harassment committees in their offices so that women teachers could register their complaints.
Pannu said that a similar committee had already been constituted in the DGSE office.
"It is mandatory to include three women teachers in the committees along with a woman employee of BPEO office as it nodal officer so that the affected teachers could acquaint the panel of her problem without hesitation," he said.
In case of serious cases, the BPEO officials have been instructed to report to senior education department officials immediately, Pannu said.