Chennai school faces action after caste-based attendance register stirs row

The school's headmistress claimed that the mistake was unintentional and directions have been issued to discontinue the practice immediately.
Students sitting in a classroom
Students sitting in a classroom
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The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has taken action against a lower primary school for maintaining an attendance register of students on the basis of their caste. The students were divided into three batches following COVID-19 restrictions but instead of dividing them on the basis of alphabetical order, the children were allegedly divided on caste lines. The GCC pulled up the school and directed the management to discontinue the practice immediately. The school headmistress told media persons that it was unintentional and that the students, earlier also, had caste put against their name in the attendance register.

The headmistress also said that this was only for administrative purposes and that students would not know of the castes of their classmates. Deputy Commissioner of Greater Chennai Corporation D Sneha told media persons, "The issue is sorted out and the attendance register is corrected. It seems to have been unintentional as per an oral investigation." The Deputy Commissioner said that the attendance is now maintained in alphabetical manner. She said that the Assistant Education Officers are directed to check the attendance registers of schools under GCC.

C Rajeev who is the Director of Centre for Policy and Development Studies, a think tank based out of Chennai told IANS, "This is shocking, how can the headmistress go scot-free after maintaining an attendance register on caste basis? While the government is trying to fizzle out the caste feeling among the people, teachers are intentionally injecting caste consciousness in minor children. Stringent action must be taken against those who have erred."

According to a report in The Hindu, earlier, in 2019, a representation was given by IAS officers of the 2018 batch where they claimed that several schools used colored wristbands on students to identify their caste.Following this, the Director of School Education had instructed concerned officials to identify and take action against schools that used colored wristbands on students to identify their caste.

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