Don’t send students to outreach programmes: HC to Kerala govt | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Don’t send students to outreach programmes: HC to Kerala govt

By, Kochi
Nov 25, 2023 07:28 AM IST

The HC underlined that the right to education is a constitutionally protected right of all children and it is the duty of educational authorities to protect this right

The Kerala high court on Friday directed the state education department not to forcibly send students up to Class 12 to attend the ongoing ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’, an outreach programme of the state government involving the chief minister and the cabinet touring all 140 assembly constituencies.

During the hearing in the case, the state also assured the court that the circulars of the education department regarding students being asked to attend the government outreach programme as well as school buses to ferry participants would be withdrawn (Representative photo)
During the hearing in the case, the state also assured the court that the circulars of the education department regarding students being asked to attend the government outreach programme as well as school buses to ferry participants would be withdrawn (Representative photo)

The interim order by the bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran came in response to petitions filed by many people including PK Navas, the state president of Muslim Students Front (MSF), seeking the withdrawal of circulars issued by district education officers to schools regarding attendance of students at the government event.

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“Needless to say, therefore, the headmasters/principals of schools are warned not to subject any of their students/wards to any activities which are not part of the educational curriculum, on the instructions of any of the official respondents in this case,” Justice Ramachandran said in the order.

The HC underlined that the right to education is a constitutionally protected right of all children and it is the duty of educational authorities to protect this right. It also said that deputy directors of the education department are exceeding their powers while asking students to attend such government programmes.

Navas, welcoming the court order, told HT, “Earlier this week, the Tirurangadi DEO in Malappuram district convened a meeting of school headmasters and other officials to press them to send a minimum of 100 and a maximum of 200 students from each school for the Nava Kerala Sadas programme. Only disciplined students were to be picked for the programme. We opposed the meeting because it runs contrary to the guidelines of Unicef regarding children’s forcible attendance at political programmes. When more DEOs began to issue orders, we decided to go to court.”

During the hearing in the case, the state government also assured the court that the circulars of the education department regarding students being asked to attend the government outreach programme as well as school buses to ferry participants would be withdrawn.

Earlier on Friday, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had registered a case following reports of schoolchildren, including primary grade students, being made to line up under scorching conditions along roads to greet chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the cabinet of ministers as they travelled in a bus from one assembly constituency to another.

The case was filed on the complaint of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the state chief secretary was asked to take action and submit a report within five days.

The ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’, which began from Manjeshwar in Kasaragod district of north Kerala on Noveber 18, entered Kozhikode district on Friday after completing the tour through three districts. It involves the chief minister and his cabinet of 20 ministers touring through the 140 Assembly constituencies in a modified bus in what has been planned as a major outreach to the public ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. In the last elections in 2019, the CPM-led LDF had lost 19 of the state’s 20 seats including in some of its strongholds where it had been winning for years. The defeat considerably pulled down the share of MPs of Left parties like CPM and CPI in the lower house of Parliament.

The ‘Nava Kerala Sadas’ is billed as an initiative of the LDF to get closer to the electorate, address their grievances and publicise its achievements especially in the backdrop of two heavy defeats to the opposition UDF in recently-held bye-elections. As part of the outreach, there are meetings with eminent persons in the mornings followed by the CM and the ministers personally interacting with members of the public with regard to their grievances. Complaints, both written and stated orally, are collected and acted upon at the spot. Meetings are also held parallely with local body officials and bureaucrats to take stock of implementation of government schemes and infrastructure projects.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishnu Varma is Assistant Editor and reports from Kerala for the Hindustan Times. He has 10 years of experience writing for print and digital platforms and has worked at The New York Times, NDTV and The Indian Express in the past. He specialises in longform reportage at the intersections of politics, crime, social commentary and environment.

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