Updated: January 20, 2022 10:07:09 am
Following a notice by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Delhi’s Directorate of Education has now responded to the apex child right’s body that it will be instituting additional safeguards to its ‘Desh ke Mentor’ programme, including police verification of mentors and prohibiting physical meetings between mentors and students.
The NCPCR had written to the Delhi government last week asking it to suspend this flagship programme until “all the loopholes pertaining to the safety of the children are overhauled”. It had raised concerns over the possibility of children being exposed to abuse by people designated as mentors. It had raised concerns over the lack of police verification of the mentors, and questioned the ‘psychometric test’ that applicants are supposed to take before being enrolled as mentors.
The Directorate of Education responded to the NCPCR on Tuesday, stating that it will be adding new features for the security of students, including police verification of mentors. According to NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo, the Directorate has stated that if they receive adverse reports on the criminal record of any mentor from the police station concerned, the person shall be deregistered from the programme. The Directorate has also stated that all conversations between mentors and mentees shall be recorded and maintained by it. In any mentor meets with mentees offline, they shall be deregistered from the programme.
On Wednesday, The Indian Express had also reported that the Directorate of Education has advised that the parents of students enrolled as mentees ensure that an adult member of the family be present during phone conversations between mentors and mentees and supervise them.
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Launched in October 2021, the programme aims at providing voluntary mentors to students in classes IX to XII. People between the ages of 18 and 35 can sign up to be mentors through an app created by a team at Delhi Technological University, and they will be connected with students based on mutual interests. The mentorship entails regular phone calls for a minimum of two months, which can be carried on for four more months optionally. Earlier, the Delhi government had lashed out against the Centre and NCPCR for asking that the programme be suspended, saying that safeguards had been kept in mind when it was designed.
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