The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Andhra mulls rein on cane

Hyderabad, Nov. 17: The Andhra Pradesh government is yet to implement the mid-day meal scheme designed to attract and keep students in schools, but is mulling another step to contain drop-outs: reining in teachers who are harsh on pupils.

The Chandrababu Naidu regime’s eyes were opened when a massive programme — Chaduvula Panduga — launched in October to bring back children to classrooms showed that about 23 lakh children between nine and 14 were not going to school.

Commissioner of school education Manmohan Singh today said service rules of the education department were being amended to enable censuring of teachers who hand out corporal punishment. Besides reprimanding, the government will reserve the right to file criminal charges against such teachers if complaints by students and parents against them are proved correct, he added.

A special children protection cell has been created with a helpline, where students can lodge complaints against teachers and the school administration, Singh said at a workshop organised as part of the Children’s Rights Week. “We have already initiated action against a teacher of a school in the city for beating up children.”

Although alarmed by the drop-out rate, the government has postponed for the third time the mid-day meal scheme for nearly 75 lakh children, citing lack of infrastructure. The Rs 95-crore scheme is not slated to be implemented by private contractors aided by NGOs from January 2, 2003.

“Besides 3 kg of rice per month per child, the government will provide Rs 1.25 per day per child towards the programme,” said Singh. The government has appealed to NGOs and philanthropists to make the programme a success.

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