A local convent school for girls on Friday courted controversy over asking the students to bring snacks from home and sell them to others in the school premises allegedly to collect money for the new building.The issue came to light when the members of Himachal Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights led by its Chairperson Kiran Dhanta made a surprise visit to the School, on a complaint.
Member (Education), Dr Roshan Lal, member (Child Labour), Kusum Verma and member (Juvenile Justice), Ashutosh Gupta were a part of the team.“There was news report in a vernacular newspaper some days ago in this regard. Later, we received a complaint that the authorities at Loreto Convent Tara Hall School tell the students to bring snacks like Chana kulcha, burgers etc. from home once a month. They are then told to sell it to other students. The junior students are asked to pay Rs 20 for jam sessions (cultural sessions) in the school,” member (Juvenile Justice), Himachal Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Ashutosh said.
He said some students of class six corroborated this during the surprise visit of the commission.“The principal of the school has verbally admitted that the students were asked to do this to collect funds for the new building. The principal said it was not a routine,” he said. Commission member Ashutosh said this was a violation of sorts in the educational institutions and the students can’t be asked to do this. “It is a violation of the High Court directions also which has asked the educational institutions not to charge building fund from students in any way.”
The Commission has viewed the matter seriously and has warned the school authorities not to repeat it.Principal of Tara Hall School Sister Stephanie, when contacted, said, “The Commission members came here and told us not to continue with it. It’s okay. We did it just once (a year) so that the students also contribute something for the school.” She said the school was not charging any building fund.
The Commission members, on the other hand, said, “We are sending the notice to the school authorities to explain in writing. We will also take it up with the Secretary, Education, Himachal government to come out with a comprehensive policy, wherein the schools should be directed not to do such things.
The Commission will also take it up the state government that the private schools should be prevented from recommending particular shops for buying books and uniform in the policy.Sources in the Commission said since the children of influential people in Shimla, mainly high ups and politicians, are studying in this school, initially the school authorities did not answer the queries of the Commission members properly and refused to tell them about the fee structure.It was only after the Commission members told them that the issue was serious and they can place the matter before High Court, the school authorities cooperated.
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