A photograph of a Kerala school’s blackboard where the student strength is written down under various categories has been doing the rounds on social media. However, these aren’t the usual ‘present’- ‘absent’ categories. The students have been grouped based on their caste and religion, drawing much flak online.
The photo shows ‘categories’ into which students are grouped – SC (scheduled caste), OEC (Other Eligible Communities), OBC (other backward communities), General -- and also, Hindu, Muslim and Christian. The time table was written below the class strength chart.
The blackboard, displayed the strength of 56 children who are in class 3, and seven or eight years old.
The photograph was posted by Chithira Kusuman, a journalist, on Facebook on Tuesday. The post is from a classroom of St Teresa's lower primary school in Ernakulam, where one of Chithira’s relatives is studying. She also wrote in the post that a complaint had been made against the teacher with higher authorities at the school.
Chithira later removed the post as the teacher who wrote on the blackboard apologised. Chithira posted the apology letter from the teacher. The journalist had explained that she removed the post upon the teacher’s request as it might pose a threat to the teacher's job with an ongoing enquiry at the school.
"For official purposes, they ask for students’ details many times over the year. So, to avail the data on my off days as well, I wrote that on the board. This was done only in my class room. It was not intended to discriminate or harass students. I apologise for my mistake," the teacher wrote in her apology letter.
Activist and actor Jolly Chirayath reacted to the post on Facebook. She wrote, "Though children are not bothered about caste, school authorities and teacher are bothered. In the era of computerisation why do they need the data again and again when its stored once. Even if computers are not there, they could have written it in a register," she wrote.
However, most of the comments on the Chithira’s post observe that categorising students based on caste, and displaying it class room is not appropriate.
Many slammed the school in comments on the post. One said, "The data will be available in all school offices. Then what is the use displaying it in classroom."
"The strength written in the board and the way the apology letter wrote cannot be accepted," read another comment.