Schools in Manipur, both private and government, often violate the right to education act 2009. The state government in 2010 notification ordered that “no child in the state of Manipur shall be subjected to any kind of physical punishment or mental harassment.” The order came because the sub-sections (1) and (2) of section 17 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE) prohibits “all kinds of corporal and other punishments on the school children,” according to the order. While the sub-section (1) prohibit physical and mental punishment, subsection (2) of section 17 entails that anyone violating sub-section (1) shall be liable to disciplinary action.
Cases of corporal punishment often come to light in Manipur. In 2015, a case of severe beating of a student in sixth standard by a teacher took place in St Joseph School, Sangaiporou. The incident, as reported, traumatized the student. In 2016, a sixth standard boy was beaten to death by school authorities in a residential school at Langol. The boy was beaten to death because the father could not pay the fees of the residential school. Last year, a class one student was hospitalized after a substitute teacher punished him with beatings in a government school at Churachandpur. When it comes to Standard Robarth, it has more stories to tell and more are expected to surface.
Standard Robarth Secondary School is one of the schools in Manipur known for corporal punishment. Last year, media reported that school authority of the said school thrashed a student severely because he found a bullet lying in the school premises and handed to a teacher. There was no investigation on the matter, neither child rights commission of this state nor government took interest in this matter. In 2014, 56 students tried running away from the hostel as they feared the corporal punishment meted out to the students residing there on regular basis. The matter started when students had complaint about the quality of the food they were served in the hostel. Only 26 students succeeded in running away. Students at that time raised complaints on the severe beating they undergo in their hostel at Standard Robarth. More reports of horrible physical abuses meted out to the children in the school have started surfacing both in social and mainstream media outlets after Babysana’s case. The allegations include severe beatings and humiliation which scarred the students psychologically. In one case, a student was beaten by hanging with a belt. In another, a student with an injury on his arms was made to carry a bucket of water by a hostel authority which furthered the injury on the boy’s arm. An ex student has also stated in social media that they were not given proper health care, she writes “ if a person is not well and suffering from severe disease, instead of checking the condition of the student, the warden, who is a trained nurse, starts scolding the students and telling them to ask their parents.” The cases that have surfaced are nothing less than torture of children in the school premises. Now, a girl was found dead in the school premises in mysterious circumstances with bruises on the body. This calls for serious contemplation on things that are going on in the school. The school authority is in clear violation of section 17 of RTE Act. Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR) and Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) must take on this matter.
The state must take the matter at hand seriously and with priority especially when state has a very bad record on child rights. In 2013, a member of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights commented that “the Government of Manipur seems to take little interest in the welfare of children. There has been unrestrained violation of child rights due to sheer negligence of the State government.” The point is that one should not continue this sheer act of negligence. Given these poor records on child rights and the surfacing cases of violations of RTE Act in the schools, MCPCR and the government must take initiative in this matter. The slogan of “education free zone” must not go in the direction where in the name of providing education, people start doing whatever they want freely. Hence, regulatory guidelines on these sectors are needed immediately.