Schools Are No Longer ‘Sacred Havens’, Says Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi
Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi blames lax school managements among other factors for the recent spate of sexual abuse cases on school premises. In a conversation with Bloomberg Quint, the social activist said, “Schools are making huge money out of parents and students. They do not follow norms set for security and safety of children, including safety during transit.”
Satyarthi’s comments come at a time when the gruesome murder of a seven-year-old student in a well-known school in Gurugram, Haryana, has raised questions of whether Indian schools are safe. The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Central and Haryana governments and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on the case making it clear that "this petition is not restricted only to the school concerned as it has a country-wide ramification”, reported news agency PTI.
“ I came across many children who are traumatised with the name of school or studies or teachers,” said Satyarthi while explaining that the recent incidents of sexual abuse and violence against children as young as 5 years were not isolated incidents.
Parents were so frightened to send their children to schools in some places, in and around Delhi, and also in other parts of India because their children were raped and abused and nobody was listening to them.Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Laureate
Satyarthi launched a march to raise awareness of sexual abuse of children, on Monday from Kanyakumari. The 35-day ‘Bharat Yatra’ will move across 22 states culminating in the national capital on the October 16. “We want to make sure laws of the land like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) are implemented,” said Satyarthi. He cited abysmal conviction rates under the act, with only 4 percent cases resulting in convictions and 6 percent being acquitted.
In some states, it will take 40 years to dispose these cases even if no other such case takes place now onwards.Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Laureate
While safety within schools has come into sharp focus after recent incidents, Kailash Satyarthi also has a word of advice for parents. “Parents hardly talk on such issues at parent-teacher meetings,” he said. “They talk about quality of education, marks, etc., but safety of children in schools is much more important.”
The child rights and education advocate also has some practical advice for schools, “The most vulnerable places are toilets and the drinking water area. A 6-7-year-old child goes to the washroom alone, these places are not so safe because they are far from the classrooms.”