Education has hit the reefs once more. The terrible ordeal of one of the worst crimes has roiled the search for learning again and with a frequency that is direly sickening for a city that flaunts its progressive and libertarian credentials.
Less than three months after a four-year-old lower primary student was molested in Kolkata’s GD Birla Centre for Education, a seven-year-old girl of Carmel School was doomed to a similar fate in the room meant for dance lessons.
Whereas two male physical instructors have been arrested for the outrage in the first week of December, a male dance teacher is alleged to be responsible for the second. Horror of horrors, there has been yet another incident in a third South Kolkata school ~ Kamala Girls’.
It used to be said in the 1970s that chaotic Calcutta was scarcely suitable for graduate studies, let alone academic pursuits at higher levels. More than 45 years later, the city isn’t safe for girls in the primary segment; the foundation is as brittle as it is repugnant.
This is the fundamental reality of girls’ education that is yet to be addressed for all the collective jaw-dropping of the education department, the police, guardians and civil society generally. There is need for greater supervision, effective safeguards et al. The issues to be tackled are teacher-student ratios, which are abysmally high in many schools despite high fees, smaller class sizes, child sensitisation and teacher
It would be less than accurate to aver that gender disconnect is the core issue and the upshot of Monday’s meeting of the Association of Christian Schools in West Bengal is critical to the context. These institutions are forced to engage male dance teachers in the absence of “employable female candidates to teach western dance forms”.
Rightly has the association resolved to maintain “traditions” without compromising on safety. Prima facie, some schools lack the fundamental safeguards, such as CCTV cameras. That said, the idea of an entire childhood spent under the camera’s glare is repugnant.
The authorities of the schools, all of some repute, have been engaged in a laboured bout of hedging, most particularly over the reason why there is little or no internal surveillance. The crime ought to be of riveting concern to those engaged in the fashionable campus pursuit of women’s studies.
Even in a purportedly “prestigious” school, the girl child is safe no more. But as other cases show, sometimes she isn’t even safe within the sanctuary called home. The sickness is almost overwhelming.