State plans policy to protect tribal schoolkids
Following the incident of two girl students complaining of sexual assault at a tribal boarding school in Buldhana, Vidarbha, the Maharashtra government is formulating a comprehensive policy to protect tribal children studying at boarding schools across the state.
It aims to protect students from any abuse, harm and exploitation. Under the policy, more responsibility will be put on school management. The head of the school is obligated to report any case of child abuse to the local police station, child welfare committee and the respective project officer. The district collector will have to conduct periodic inspection of tribal boarding schools to ensure protection and safety of children. It also proposed to appoint a child protection officer selected by the students.
Under the policy, a governmentappointed panel or agency would assess and certify the boarding schools for compliance of the policy. The panel will have members from the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) along with an official of the (tribal) department concerned to ensure fair and impartial assessment. However, the policy draft is silent on action to be taken in case of its violation.
Rajagopal Devara, secretary, tribal development department said the policy is yet to be finalised. “The government is taking help from institutions such as UNICEF We are also roping in some NGOs working in this field,” Devara said.