Barabanki district magistrate has ordered an inquiry into the alleged “discrimination” against a Class I student by her school for being “too white”.
Seven-year-old Pragati Soni, a student of Pioneer Montessori School in Barabanki, suffers from albinism, a congenital disorder in which the hair, skin and eyes of a person turn white due to partial or complete absence of certain pigments.
In an application to the DM, the child’s parents have alleged that the class teacher would make their daughter sit separately in the class and later advised them not to send her to school as “other parents don’t want their kids to study alongside her.”
“Pragati told us that her class teacher, Piyush Srivastava, would make her sit separately even as other children spoke to her normally. When I called to enquire, she (the class teacher) told me not to send her to school as she can’t teach Pragati anymore. She told me that my kid is weak and can’t see properly, and that most of all, she is too white so other parents object to her presence and don’t want their children to study with her,” the child’s mother, Mamta Soni, told The Sunday Express over phone.
The incident, according to Mamta, first took place on April 27. “After that we sent our kid to the school for about a week but the class teacher still made her sit separately and said that either Pragati or she can remain in the classroom at a time,” the mother alleged. “Piyush had a problem with Pragati’s hair so we got her a haircut. We also had her eyes tested and she now wears glasses. We also consulted a doctor in Lucknow who told us that Pragati has no skin disease or any such thing,” Mamta said.
She alleges that they approached the school Principal, Rekha Mishra, but she, too, washed her hands off the issue. “So we stopped sending her to school and on May 25, the summer vacations started,” she said.
With the school set to reopen on July 1, Mamta said she was not sure what to do until her sister, Lalita Soni, advised her to approach the District Magistrate. Mamta submitted an application in this regard on Friday (June 5).
Principal Rekha Mishra rubbished the allegations and said Mamta was trying to coax the school into waiving the school fee of her children. While Pragati studies in Class I, her sister Vaishali, aged 5, studies in kindergarten.
Mamta said she did submit an application with the school to waive the fee — Rs 900 per month for one child — for either of her two children as they are financially weak but said this has no bearing on the discrimination faced by her child. Mamta’s husband Ajay Soni runs a paan shop.
“If we had a problem with her, why would we admit her in the first place?” Mishra said.
Meanwhile, Barabanki DM Yogeshwar Ram Mishra has ordered an inquiry into the matter. “Yes, we have come to know about it. I have asked the Basic Shiksha Adhikari to probe the matter,” he said.