Jolted by Shehla's death, Kerala govt wakes up to students' safety

Jolted by Shehla's death, Kerala govt wakes up to students' safety

Thiruvananthapuram: In the backdrop of the death of 10-year-old Shehla Sherin after she was bitten by a snake inside her classroom at the Bathery Government Sarvajana School, the government has decided to ensure safety of children at all schools in the state.

The general education director has issued a circular asking schools to fix all the cracks and holes in classrooms, walls, washrooms and other places before December 5 using cement and sand. Schools have also been asked not to stop students from wearing footwear in classrooms.

From now, teachers will be taught how to administer first aid during their training. The circular was issued after a meeting that was presided over by Education Minister C Raveendranath.

The additional director in the directorate of public instruction will personally visit and enquire about the death of Shehla and submit a report to the minister. Ministers Raveendranath and V S Sunil Kumar and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala will visit Shehla's house on Saturday.

10 directives

The general education director's order says that all deputy directors of the education department have to ensure that the directives in the circular have been implemented and submit a report by 4 pm on December 10. Here are the directives:

* All schools should call an emergency PTA meeting and take precautionary measures to avoid similar instances. Class PTAs should also be called.

* Apart from fixing all cracks and holes, weeds and vegetation too will have to be cleared and the school and its surroundings should be kept clean.

* People's representatives and representatives of local government bodies need to chalk out a plan to keep the school clean in future too.

* If unnecessary goods and waste are piled up on school premises, they need to be removed immediately. The clean-up has to be done with the participation of the public.

* If students are using footwear inside classroom, they should not be stopped. If dark, lights are required to be installed inside washrooms.

* Even the smallest things raised by the children need to be given a careful hearing and solutions need to be provided.

* During emergency, any available vehicle should be utilised.

* After class hours, windows of classrooms need to be closed and doors locked.

* The onus for implementing the directives is on PTA, head teachers, teaching and non-teaching staff members.

Case against head teacher, doctor

Bathery: The police have suo moto filed a case against Sarvajana Government VHSS principal A K Karunakaran, headmaster K K Mohanan and Bathery taluk hospital duty doctor Jisa Merin Joy in connection with the death of Shehla. They have been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Both the principal and the headmaster have been suspended. DDE Ibrahim Thonikkara said that the decision to dissolve the PTA should be taken only after a general body meeting is held.

A protest march taken out by student and youth organisations to the Collectorate in Kalpatta on Friday turned violent and the police had to resort to cane-charging.

Are your kids studying here?

Bathery: "How are you condoning this? Are your children studying here?" A teacher of the school had no answer to district sub-judge K Sunitha's questions.

On the directives of the Kerala High Court, a team led by district judge A Harris saw first-hand the sorry state of classrooms and washrooms at the school.

Despite informing about the visit, the headmaster reached half an hour late.

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