State plans pol­icy to pro­tect tribal schoolkids

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Faisal Ma­lik­lik@hin­dus­tan­

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.

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