The ongoing case of the suspicious death of Babysana in the boarding of Standard Robarth Higher Secondary School has brought to light a serious concern for the life and mental and physical health of the students of Manipur.
Concerning the toxic atmosphere of the school and its hostel/boarding recently surfaced, it reflects an alarming situation gravitating towards a collapsing education system.
Expressed by its ex-students, the school has a history of its teachers and wardens physically assaulting, abusing, and mentally harassing its students. To top it all, the school has also been exposed for running a fake residential school under the same name with no valid permit. The given scheme of things pose concerning questions about the availability of such exploitative environment and toxicity in other schools and hostels in Manipur.
The recent case is the 17-year old student of Royal Academy of Advance Learning, studying in class 10, found dead by drowning in a pond near the hostel he was staying. The cases of death and physical abuse seem to be accompanied by cases of sexual assault as well. A case of sexual assault in Jawahar Navodya Vidyalaya by its principal has also been filed. However, attempts to sweep it under the rug have been exposed, and charge sheets have been filed against two individuals. To everyone’s surprise, one of the accused is Sumatibala Ningthoujam, chairperson of the Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Looking at the perpetrators and people involved in covering up such crimes, it does seem like the students of Manipur are in grave danger and not in the right hands.
On the other hand, Government of Manipur has just sent out the notification regarding the Regulatory Guidelines for Hostels of Educational Institutions for Children, which was formulated by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in 2018. Even the notification states that it has been adopted in some schools/institutions. It is August 2019, now. Why is it so that the Government of Manipur took so long to even send out this notification, let alone an order for the implementation of the same? Why did it take the death of a 14-year old and an outrage of the people to take this simple yet important step? Is it the incompetency or negligence of the state government? The negligence is quite certain, so much so that even the official notification writes “The National Commission for Child Rights (NCPCR)”, missing out the “Protection of”. Now, it is the need of the hour for the concerned authorities to check if all the schools and hostels are valid, if they have mandatory facilities, if they are following the guidelines, and if they are violating the Right to Education, especially by physically punishing and mentally harassing the students. Apart from all the academic routines, at this point in time, it is also of immense importance for every school and hostel to have proper counselling sessions for the students in order to hear their grievances and address their needs before the issues go out of hands. It is also time that the authorities question and keep an eye on the behaviour of the teachers and wardens. Therefore, in order to protect the future and for the well-being of the students, it is necessary to put our education system in the right place with the right people.