The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teachers told to clip students’ nails

Krishnagar, Jan. 30: Primary school teachers in Nadia are up in arms against the administration following a circular that says teachers must ensure students’ personal hygiene by clipping their nails and washing their hands with soap.

District magistrate Onkar Singh Meena sent the order to all 2,700 primary schools in the district last month, following a survey by the health department.

The study showed that every year, about 30,000 people in Nadia suffer from diarrhoea, gastro-enteritis and other stomach ailments. Of them, 80 per cent are children.

Over the past three weeks, the district authorities have supplied 10 nail-clippers and 10 soaps to each school.

But many teachers feel that the instruction is difficult to implement.

The circular asked them to inspect the nails when the students come to school or before their mid-day meal.

There are 900,000 primary school students in Nadia and one teacher for 70 children.

“We have five hours of school. Over an hour goes in distributing the meal. If a teacher has to inspect the nails of 70 children, cut their nails when required and wash their hands with soap, when will he or she teach'” asked Suren Das of Hanskhali Primary School.

The teachers have lodged their protest with the district primary school council.

Bibhash Biswas, its chairman, has asked the teachers to assign student representatives the task of keeping a check on their mates’ nails.

“I have advised them to depute monitors. But they will also be children. How will they handle the nail-clippers' I have called a meeting with the school heads next week to find a solution to the problem,” Biswas said.

However, the district magistrate is determined to have his circular followed. “I’ll ensure that,” said Meena.

“I have also asked the schools not to cook the mid-day meals in the open. I was alarmed at the health report. We must control the outbreak of enteric diseases among children,” he added.

Health officials said that on receiving their report, the district magistrate wanted to know the reasons behind the high incidence of stomach ailments among children.

“We pointed out that a large number of them came from poor families where awareness was low — parents didn’t clip the children’s nails or wash their hands regularly. In many cases, children afflicted with diarrhoea or gastro-enteritis die as they are not brought to health centres in time,” said Mrinal Kanti Biswas, the district’s chief medical officer.

The report pointed out that every year, a majority of the children die of diarrhoea and enteric diseases simply because they are brought to the hospital late.

The administration has already spent about Rs 4 lakh on the project. “Money won’t be a problem,” the district magistrate said.

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