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Checking school kids bags for unusual things: Whose job is it anyway?

The shocking incident of stabbing of a Class 1 boy by a senior girl in Lucknow’s Brightland School last Tuesday had prompted educational institutions to carry out random check of school bags of students.

education Updated: Jan 23, 2018 18:39 IST
Rajeev Mullick
Rajeev Mullick
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
School bag,Brightland School,School bag search
Education - Municipal - BMC School - Classroom - Teacher - School students interact during the Gender Education Class at the Khardev Nagar Municipal School Chembur Mumbai - Photo by Prajakt Patil 26.11.09 - NOV09 2K9

The shocking incident of stabbing of a Class 1 boyby a senior girl in Lucknow’s Brightland Schoollast Tuesday had prompted educational institutions to carry out random check of school bags of students.

While the intention was to see if they are not carrying any knife like objects that may be used to harm other students, what came out of the bag was no less startling.

As reported in an earlier report in Hindustan Times, articles such as razor, trimmer, shaving foam, cigarette, lighter, chisel blade, iPod, mobile phone, ultra slim laptop, porn magazine and gutkha pouch were recovered from the school bags.

The recovery of unusual things from bags where only books should have found place has thrown up yet another debate — Whether schools are authorized to peek into the bags or is it parents’ job anyway.

“Random checks of bags are always done in schools. Objectionable articles, if found, are reported to parents. Schools can, and must do such checking but doing it daily is not always possible,” said Mala Mehra, president, Association of Schools affiliated to the Indian School Certificate, Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand Chapters.

She added, “Somewhere the parents also need to take responsibility. After all we do not provide the gadgets nor do we require or subscribe to them.”

So what’s the way out?

Perhaps, a regular connect between students and their parent.

“Parents need to curb the desire to provide such things to their wards. They should observe any change in behaviour or issues plaguing their child. That is the only way forward,” said Mala, principal of Hoerner College.

Right to education crusader, Samina Bano, believes privacy is important.

However, if it is about safety and well-being of children, it should and can be compromised.

“We are thoroughly searched at airports, do we complain?” she said while urging schools to ensure that they don’t hurt any child’s dignity.

Bano suggests it could be done by clearly laying out rules on what is allowed and what is not.

“Inform students beforehand that they can be searched randomly. Conduct searches in private and not in front of other children,” she said.

President of Lucknow’s City Montessori School, Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, said it is sensible to make parents responsible for checking children’s bag. This school has earned a place in Guinness Book of World Records for having a maximum of 55,000 studying in different branches all in the state capital

“It is more feasible for parents as they will be checking one or two bags while school will have to check thousands,” she said.

“By helping their children to pack their bags, parents also get engage with their child’s life and that is a huge collateral benefit,” she said.

Senior advocate IB Singh, however, said it is less of legal and more of social issue.

“There is not much of legal remedy available in reference to checking of school bags. If a child is found guilty of bringing anything illegal, he can be referred to juvenile board,” he said.

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 18:30 IST