The Telegraph
Thursday , January 9 , 2014
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Martial arts must for Navodaya girls

New Delhi, Jan. 8: The Centre-run Navodaya Vidyalayas have been asked to train girls in judo, karate and taekwondo in a move aimed at fighting sexual harassment on campuses and beyond.

The residential schools are possibly the first among central educational institutions to make such self-defence courses compulsory.

The measure will benefit over 50,000 girls — most of them from rural areas studying in the 600-odd Navodaya schools across the country.

G.S. Bothyal, the commissioner of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) that runs the school chain, said the measures were aimed at helping the girl students “tackle real-life situations” and protect themselves.

“We have made self-defence training compulsory for girls. Physical education teachers will provide the training,” Bothyal said.

The order has come at a time cases of sexual harassment of girl students have been reported from educational institutions, including central varsities and IITs.

The commissioner said all Navodaya schools had started implementing the directive, which also includes training in other innovative techniques of self-defence.

If physical education teachers do not have the skills to train girls, the schools have been allowed to hire experts at an honorarium of Rs 10,000 per month.

The girls will be divided into groups of seven to 10 for the training that should last at least an hour a day, Bothyal said.

The principals have been asked to get feedback of the girl students and send reports to the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti headquarters every month.

Education experts welcomed the move.

S.S. Jena, the chairman of National Institute of Open Schooling, said its success would depend how best the rule is implemented.

“Normally in the government system, the headquarters send directives routinely but do not review implementation regularly. This affects implementation. I hope the NVS reviews the implementation and takes remedial measures when required,” he said.

Jena said that as 75 per cent of Navodaya students hailed from rural areas, they needed more physical and psychological support from the Navodaya school authorities for the training.

An IIT professor lauded the initiative but said such training should be provided to all students irrespective of gender. “Young boys are also subjected to sexual harassment,” the professor said.