Tuesday, 16 August 2011
How a 'rich' school tagged poor students in Delhi
IANS Aug 14, 2011, 05.53pm IST
NEW DELHI: St. Andrews Scots Senior Secondary School, a posh school in east Delhi, boasts of "providing value-based education" to its students but is under the scanner of a child rights panel - for tagging poor students.
The school admits poor students under the legally bound 10 percent freeship quota - fee waiver - for economically disadvantaged children.
But the students, their parents and child rights activists allege that the school discriminates against poor kids, profiles them on the basis of their socio-economic status and makes them wear tags showing they have been admitted under the quota.
The children are made to wear an ink mark "F/S", denoting freeship, on their shirt collars to distinguish them from the rest of the children.
Parents of some of the poor students approached NGO Pardarshita that helped in filing a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR). As soon as the rights panel started probing the matter in May and issued notice to the school, the tagging system was immediately done away with.
"We issued notice to the school after we received a complaint that the EWS (economically weaker section) students were discriminated by teachers. The school has given its explanations which were unconvincing," DCPCR chairman Amod Kanth said. "The matter is under probe. The categorizing of students is illegal," said Kanth.
Officials of Pardarshita allege that some of the students were even segregated and kept in a separate room during school hours.
Ritu Mehra of Pardarshita said her organization came to know about the discriminatory treatment after three of the children and their parents came forward and sought help.
The three children stay in the Indira Camp in east Delhi.
She said all the children from Class 1 to 5 admitted under the quota were forced to sit on the floor and not even allowed to use the school toilets.
Suman, a resident of Indira Camp in east Delhi, has her daughter in preparatory class of the school. She has a more shocking story to share.
"My daughter was not allowed to interact with other kids for around one and a half months because they thought she stinks. The school tagged her 'F/S' on her uniform," Suman said.
She said that her daughter was even bribed by school authorities to lie before the rights panel if its officials come for inspection. "They gave chocolates to kids to lure them and promised a picnic if they don't complain and lie before the investigating officers," said Suman.