Bhubaneswar: Disease Surveillance Mechanism, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for ensuring safety and security of students, strict governance and management of SC,ST Development (SSD) hostels including safeguarding of Educational Ecosystem, proper documentation of Entry and Exit of boarders and visitors, capacity building, counseling, orientation and skill education programme, establishment of a dedicated School and Hostel Monitoring Cell (SHMC), the State Government has adopted a meticulously-planned strategy to ensure the overall safety and security of tribal students at SSD schools especially girl boarders.
It can be noted here that through 1,736 residential educational institutions across Odisha provide education to ST & SC students from primary to secondary level with around 6,000 hostels accommodating 5.2 lakh boarders, out of which 58 percent are girls.
SHMC ON ALERT MODE, 24X7:
In order to steer the monitoring activities in the SSD schools and hostels and to make the monitoring of officials at different levels accountable, the SC,ST Development Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department has set up an efficient technical team in form of a dedicated School & Hostel Monitoring Cell (SHMC) to coordinate the monitoring activities of the educational institutions through a centralized 24X7 Grievance Centre.
The Department has provisioned Smart phones in 1,725 girls hostels attached to SSD schools having 100 or more girl boarders. A Toll-Free number 18003453040 has also been provided to receive the complaints from students, especially girls if there is any issue.
ZERO TOLERENCE POLICY:
The Department has codified a Zero Tolerance Policy for any sexual offences against students by the teaching or non-teaching staff. Any violation of this policy is dealt promptly and in the most stringent manner. Any sexual offences against any student shall be treated as a major offence under the OCS (CC&A) Rules 1962 and shall be liable for dismissal from services.
It can also be noted here that staff are also being trained, Protection of Children Against Sexual Offence (POCSO) Act and on the Safety Security Guidelines to further facilitate them to ensure safety and security of the boarders in all SSD schools.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COLLECTORS:
The SC,ST Development, Minorities and Backward Communities Welfare Department has issued instructions to all collectors for health screening of all boarders in residential SSD-run schools to be mandatorily conducted immediately, within 1-2 days of their joining after long vacations.
The health screening is conducted for fever, malaria, diarrhoea, chicken pox, acute respiratory infections (ARI) and many others, including adolescent reproductive and sexual health issues (ARSH) for all students in residential schools.
Detailed guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) have also been issued for ensuring the safety and security of students in SSD schools and hostels. These guidelines specify the Code of Conduct and Duties of staff, environmental safeguards to be adopted in hostels, recording the movement of boarders and visitors in the schools and hostel campus etc.
MORE WOMEN, MORE SAFETY:
The State Government has created 3,000 posts of Lady Matrons to be engaged in girl’s hostels this has not only ensured safety, but also enhanced the confidence-level of the girl boarders in the SSD hostels and schools. Efforts are being taken to ensure a safe ecosystem around the educational institutions.
While visit registers for guardians are maintained, no visitors/parents are allowed into the hostel room. Adequate and age appropriate information are provided to students to recognize a “good touch and bad touch” and they are encouraged to report any fears they might have regarding any unwanted advances made towards them.
The strict rules also say that if during any situation a male headmaster/principal, teacher and or other staff member is required to go into the room and or places of privacy, he shall necessarily be accompanied by the lady matron, lady cook-cum-attendant / helper, lady teacher or any other woman staff of the school. It also makes it mandatory that no student is asked to go to any staff quarters/residential premises for any reason whatsoever.