Gu­jarat teach­ers to come clean on cases

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Htnation - Hi­ral Dave let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ ■

AHMED­ABAD: Gu­jarat school teach­ers will from now on have to file an af­fi­davit declar­ing that they do not have any sex­ual of­fence case reg­is­tered against them, the state govern­ment an­nounced on Fri­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the di­rec­tion of the state ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment, all pri­mary, sec­ondary and higher sec­ondary school teach­ers and staff mem­bers will have to sub­mit a no­tarised af­fi­davit declar­ing that they are not in­volved in any sex­ual of­fence case. The or­der cov­ers aided and self-fi­nanced schools also.

The move comes af­ter a few rapes in­volv­ing mi­nors were re­ported from Su­rat this year, in­clud­ing an 11-year-old who was raped and mur­dered in March and two five-year-olds who were vi­o­lated last month, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Although many teach­ers have not wel­comed the move, the ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment main­tained it was a step to­wards mak­ing the school en­vi­ron­ment more se­cure. No rape-re­lated cases have re­cently been re­ported from any school nor have school teach­ers been held as ac­cused, of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

A teacher said on the con­di­tion of anonymity, “We are be­ing asked to fill up the form as if we are crim­i­nals. Teacher-stu­dent re­la­tions are very sa­cred and they should be kept like that.”

Par­ents of school stu­dents have wel­comed the move. “Just like elec­tion can­di­dates have to de­clare their per­sonal de­tails so that we know about their back­ground, it will be good to know that teach­ers have a clean back­ground,” said Smita Nair, the mother of 14-year-old girl.

In Au­gust 2017, on a PIL seek­ing to boost safety of school­child­ren, the Supreme Court had is­sued or­ders to step up se­cu­rity mea­sures in schools. Some of the mea­sures sug­gested were in­stalling closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion cam­eras in schools, col­lect­ing the back­ground in­for­ma­tion of teach­ers and other staff and mak­ing school build­ings se­cure. The ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ment then be­gan a drive to en­sure the court or­ders were fol­lowed by schools.

On Fri­day, Por­ban­dar be­came the lat­est dis­trict in Gu­jarat to start col­lect­ing data on school teach­ers.

“In Au­gust 2017, in con­nec­tion with a PIL, the Supreme Court had is­sued di­rec­tives to strengthen safety mea­sures in schools,” said Gu­jarat pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion board direc­tor, Nu­tan Raval. She said that apart from CCTV cam­era in­stal­la­tion, col­lect­ing back­ground in­for­ma­tion on teach­ers and other staff was a part of the court or­der.

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