In the wake of recent incidents of girls from government schools writing anonymous letters to higher authorities alleging sexual harassment by their teachers, Punjab Education Department Wednesday ordered installation of complaint boxes in all government schools of the state for ‘safety of girls’.
The order issued from the office of Director, Secondary Education, Punjab says that all government schools have to install a ‘complaint box’ in the school premises for the students to drop-in their complaints. Every month, the schools have to compile a report and send the record of the complaints received in the complaint boxes to the education department. And every six months, the department will further send them to Punjab State Commission for Women.
Further, schools have also been ordered to arrange a counselling session for students by some NGOs or social workers, at least once a month to educate them about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. Schools have also been ordered to educate students about cyber crime laws and rights so that they know how to complain if they face any harassment on social media.
Recently, a computer teacher from the government high school in village Johlan of Raikot, Ludhiana was suspended and booked for alleged sexual harassment of a Class 8 girl. Initially, parents and principal tried to sort out the matter at panchayat level. It was only after some villagers wrote an anonymous letter to Education Department that probe started.
An anonymous letter purportedly written by some students from Government Senior Secondary School (Girls), Khanna also reached Education Secretary in May alleging harassment. In February this year, two teachers from government senior secondary school in village Nathowal of Ludhiana were arrested for allegedly raping a Class 11 student.
Sukhdheer Sekhon, a government teacher who runs a teachers organisation ‘Navchetna’ for students’ welfare, said that merely installing complaint boxes will not solve the problem.
“Whenever such cases happen, parents or principal try to end it there fearing their reputation will be hit. We need to provide such environment to girls that they can talk freely about such crimes. They should have enough faith on their teachers and principals to open up and talk to them.”