In a welcome move, the Tamil Nadu State Council of Educational Research and Training (TN SCERT) has started training school teachers on how to handle child sexual abuse complaints. These sessions will be intensive and will focus only on equipping teachers to deal with complaints of sexual abuse and harassment by children.
TN SCERT started conducting sessions in January, according to a senior official from the council. â€śIt will be an ongoing process,â€ť the officer said, adding that the content for the training including the methodology is being sent by the SCERT directly to the districts, where the teachers will undergo mandatory training sessions.
â€śThey are in turn expected to impart and transfer this knowledge to students in schools. Though we have had awareness in many training sessions before, this is the first time we are doing it in an intensive manner,â€ť the officer explained.
The decision to provide intensive training to teachers on how to handle child sexual abuse related issues is significant since the Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights (TNCPCR) has recorded a sharp spike in the number of cases it has disposed of over the years under the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The number of petitions disposed off by the TNCPCR under POCSO in 2014-15 was 107, which declined to 44 cases in 2015-16. Since 2015-16, the number has steadily increased, to 416 cases in 2018-19, till March.
|Year||No of cases|
|2018-19||416 (till March)|
Continuing on why the government of Tamil Nadu decided to conduct exclusive training sessions for handling POCSO related issues in schools, the officer said, â€śIt has become essential these days. More so because B.Ed and M.Ed curriculum do not cover these aspects. The syllabus for B.Ed and M.Ed are quite old compared to how school ecosystems have evolved now.â€ť
It is mandatory for aspirants in Tamil Nadu to possess at least a Bachelor in Education (B.Ed) degree to be qualified to become a teacher in the state.
Speaking to TNM about the curriculum for B.Ed and M.Ed in India, Dr Sangeeta Saksena, the Co-Founder of Enfold Proactive Health Trust, an NGO working in the Child Sexual Abuse realm since the early 2000s, said that most stakeholders who deal with POCSO cases in general are not trained on how to sensitively handle them. â€śTeachers especially, who are directly in touch with so many children, have no idea of how to transact sessions on personal safety and sexuality education,â€ť she said.
Touching upon why it is important to integrate messages about personal safety and sexuality in the curriculum for teachersâ€™ training, Sangeeta said that it is not viable to be dependent on an external agency to provide it for the government or the schools forever.
â€śLike Enfold, many other organisations are doing this in cities. But that's so limited and miniscule. The only way to get this (personal safety lessons) into the mainstream is to have it in the B.Ed curriculum so that the teachers know how to teach students about these things,â€ť she explained. Pointing out that most textbooks have content related to traffic rules, Sangeeta said that it is important to have personal safety rules also in the textbooks for students.