A public hearing conducted by National Commission Protection Child
Rights (NCPCR) unveiled a horrific picture of the rampant
violation of the right to education act in West Bengal's
The two-day-long hearing that concluded Friday dealt with Right of
Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, besides the
issue of child trafficking in South 24 Parganas district.
"We heard many cases of violations of the right to education act," NCPCR Chairperson Shanta Sinha said. "We have seen cases were
students in government schools have been charged money in the name
of development fees and school fees."
She termed this a total contradiction. "The act provides for free
and compulsory education between the age group of 6-14 years,"
Sinha said at a press conference here.
"The teacher-student ratio was also not maintained according to
the act," she said. "There were no proper bathroom facilities for
girls, no proper drinking water in many schools. There has also
been discrimination on the basis of caste and creed."
Sinha mentioned a case study were a tribal student was given a
seat in a tribal hostel against a fee of Rs.1,000.
"It is really astonishing that there is such corruption," Sinha
said. "A tribal student was given a seat in tribal hostel against
a fee, although the tribal hostel is free for tribal students."
Sinha also pointed out the lack of coordination and lethargy among
social welfare departments and investigating agencies. She also
said that coordination between various states should be done
properly to bring back children trafficked to other states.
"We have heard numerous child trafficking cases, where parents
face lot of problems in lodging complaints about missing children.
Even if the complains are lodged, a lot of time is taken in
starting investigation. Effective coordination is needed between
both the police and social welfare department," Sinha said.
Over 50 non-judicial cases of child trafficking were lodged from
South 24 Parganas district and brought to the notice of police
stations and, subsequently, 15 days were given to them. A few
cases were solved within this period but most remained unsolved.
The commission mandated that all laws, policies, programmes and
administrative mechanisms were in consonance with child rights, as
enshrined in the Constitution of the India and also the UN
convention on the rights of the child.
Sinha demanded the immediate withdrawal of two state government
orders passed in January and February: one listing alternative
punishment to corporal punishment and another legitimising the
levy of development fees on students.
"It has been said that a school can impose fine and penalties on a
child. You can remove a student who is disruptive from the
classroom. It has also been said that a child can be stopped from
participating in sports and extra curricular activities," she
"Then money is being charged in many government schools," Sinha
said. "This is a total violation of the right to education act."
Asked how West Bengal would be rated for preservation of child
rights, Sinha said, "I won't make any comment now as I don't have
the data but I can only say that child rights needs to be
She also mentioned that newly formed West Bengal government should
set up a state commission for the protection of child rights.