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Tutor for tots ‘avoidable’

A government-appointed panel has asked parents to not engage private tutors for kids below six or hire only trained counsellors after a thorough check of their backgrounds.

The advice came from the seven-member state commission for protection of child rights in its report submitted to the social welfare department on Friday after a private tutor was caught on a CCTV camera thrashing a three-year-old at Lake Town on July 23.

It recommended the need to do away with private tuition for under-six kids and formulate an effective “parental care” system for those above six years of age.

A copy of the report has been sent to chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The advisory states that parents should do away with private tutors and allow the little minds to develop on their own, so that aversion towards studies isn’t created at an early age.

If working parents find tuition absolutely unavoidable, trained counsellors having the required set of skills to handle kids should be hired.

“The idea is to ensure that someone who is handling a little kid is clearly aware of what he or she is supposed to do. It is not just about imparting lessons but also taking care of the child’s mind,” said Ashokendu Sengupta, the chairperson of the commission.

“A teacher trained in counselling would be better equipped than someone who hasn’t undergone the necessary training.”

Working couples welcomed the recommendations but called the situation a pin-in-haystack improbability because the city doesn’t have “trained counsellors” who would agree to visit their homes for imparting lessons to the little ones.

Experts said a counsellor should be a postgraduate in child psychology or clinical psychology before interning under a practising psychiatrist. He or she should be a member of the Rehabilitation Council of India.

“We know it’s difficult to get trained hands but handling a kid is not easy unless you know how their minds work,” said a commission member. “Puja Singh (the Lake Town tutor) clearly didn’t have the expertise.”

A team from the commission had visited the family before collecting information on Singh to draw up its report.

“The parents didn’t have the right address. No wonder, police couldn’t trace Singh,” Sengupta said, voicing concern over guardians not doing any background check on tutors they hire for their kids.

The panel asked schools not to limit parent-teacher meetings into a discussion on marks, but make them broader where teachers would talk about parental care and child rights.

“We will try to find a way to implement the recommendations within a specific timeframe, say three years,” said social welfare minister Sashi Panja.