The Social Awareness Society for Youths (SASY), a non-governmental organisation, has urged the State government to enact a law to curb discrimination and violence against children in educational institutions in the wake of increasing instances of caste bias against children studying in government schools coming to light in the State.
According to a fact-finding report by SASY, though the affected students from the Dalit community reported the discriminatory practices perpetuated against them to the school authorities, no action was taken by them. The victims’ statements were often negated resulting in high number of dropouts from the schools.
No action taken
According to I. Pandian, executive director of SASY, three incidents of caste-based discrimination were reported against Dalit children in government schools in Virudhunagar, Cuddalore and Villupuram districts in the last one month.
In the first incident reported on February 25, Isaikala, a Plus Two student from the Seithur Sevuka Government Higher Secondary School in Seithur, Virudhunagar district, was subjected to physical and verbal abuse by her peers belonging to a Backward Classes community in southern Tamil Nadu. They called her by caste namesand she was thrashed and beaten up by the students inside a toilet.
Though a complaint was lodged by Isaikala’s parents, no action was taken against the students, Mr. Pandian said.
Similarly, Dalit students in the Karaikadu Government Higher Secondary School in Cuddalore were subjected to continuous caste bias by students belonging to a Most Backward Classes community in the northern region. Though the affected girl students reported the incident to the school authorities on several occasions, no action was taken.
Mr. Pandian said that in the third incident, L. Kamal, a differently-abled Plus One student from the Kadavampakkam Government Higher Secondary School, was subjected to severe corporal punishment by teachers.
“A few of his classmates were playing with paper rockets during the interval, when Kamal pulled the paper rocket and threw it out of the window. However, the student was verbally and physically assaulted by four teachers,” he said.
The fact-finding report revealed that Dalit students were subjected to various forms of identity-based discrimination and abuses, resulting in four students dropping out of school.
Need for sensitisation
SASY has demanded the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) and the National Commission on Scheduled Castes (NCSC) to visit the schools and take action against caste discrimination. The government should enact a law to curb caste-based discrimination, they have demanded.
While children cannot be criminalised and held responsible for caste-based remarks, the legislation could look at mainstreaming the children and building harmony among them. It is more of a sensitisation process, Mr. Pandian added.