For nearly a month, students at a government school in Telangana’s Ranga Reddy district have been breaking their back. Not from their school homework but from the manual labour they’ve been forced to perform under the orders of their headmaster.
A complaint was submitted to child rights NGO Balala Hakkula Sangham against K Kistaiah, the headmaster of Shivarampally ZP High School. The complaint was filed by N Sudershan, a parent, who is also the chairman of the school management committee.
Speaking to The News Minute, N Sudershan said, “This has been going since March 10. After school hours, headmaster K Kistaiah, has been forcing the students to demolish an old compound wall. The students started complaining of body pain as they work for two hours.”
He also alleged that girl students are made to clean water tanks and toilets at the school. However, despite repeated complaints by parents, Sudershan alleged that Kistaiah continued to force the children to work.
“Victims of child labour should be given admission to schools and be provided education. But in this case, the headmaster is turning students into child labourers.,” said Achyutha Rao, president of Balala Hakkula Sangham.
While parents have complained against the headmaster to the Mandal Education Officer and the District Education Officer, no action has been taken so far.
“Parents are concerned about their children and even the students have been refusing to go to school,” Sudershan said.
Parents and the NGO are demanding that the headmaster be suspended immediately and a criminal case be filed against him for child labour under the provisions of the Child Labour Prohibition Act.
The Shivarampally ZP High School consists of 1400 students. Around 100 students between the ages of 13 and 15 were reportedly engaged in shifting bricks and demolishing an old wall in the school compound.
“When parents confronted the headmaster, he simply replied saying ‘the body pain will be gone in a few days, nobody broke his leg or hand because of the work’,” alleges Sudharshan.
The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) in Telangana had rescued 3000 child labourers in 2016 under Operation Muskaan and Operation Smile.
A total of 534 cases were filed in Hyderabad and Sangareddy district under the violation of Child Labour Act.
"Despite the strict laws, child labour has been one of the biggest problem in the state. Now this case has shown that even the government is turning a blind eye to the issue. A school headmaster who should be working toward the development of children and teaching children about how harmful child labour is has been making students perform such work. The government hasn’t taken necessary action against the culprits,” rued Achyuta Rao.
Headmaster Kistaiah did not respond to calls despite The News Minute’s repeated attempts.