Kendrapara (Odisha): The alleged punishment of cleaning of toilets meted out to primary school children in Odisha's Kendrapara district last year has come under the scanner of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), official sources said. The NHRC has issuedo summons against the Commissioner-cum-secretary of schools and mass education department a week ago ordering personal appearance before it on January 11.
The summon was issued for non-compliance of fact-finding and action-taken report, the sources said. A group of standard three students of government-run Kolathia project Primary School had to clean the toilet as punishment for talking in the classroom in November last year. The children had confided to their parents after returning home.
The incident triggered a public outcry even as parents and guardians stepped up demands for disciplinary action against those who inflicted humiliation on children. HR Bansal, a New Delhi-based lawyer and rights activist, had drawn the attention of NHRC while describing it as "an act of infringement of child rights".
In accordance with Right to Education Act, students are debarred from doing any form of manual work. Asking children to clean up toilet is not only regrettable but also unlawful, rights' activist, Bansal said. Taking cognizance of Bansal's petition, the NHRC had sought for a compliance report from government agencies. But the school and mass education department remained unresponsive to NHRC queries on the purported incident.
"An on-the-spot inquiry was conducted. The monthly salary of headmaster Parameswar Nayak who had allegedly asked the children to lean up the toilet, has been held up", District Inspector of Schools Gobind Chandra Pati said.
After a thorough probe, it was found that two students had cleaned up the urinal not the toilet by throwing bucketful of water, an official of schools and mass education department here said.
As per guideline of sanitation committee constituted in each school, students clean urinals as part of inculcating hygiene and cleanliness habits in them. "Thus there is nothing wrong in the headmaster asking students to do sanitation work, as it did not amount to scavenging", the official said.