Security Forces Not to Occupy School Buildings: Govt

Outlook India, December 10, 2012

The Centre has given clear-cut instructions to the states that security forces engaged in the counter-insurgency operations should not be allowed to occupy school buildings, the government said today.

Addressing the National Consultation on Education in Areas Affected by Civil Strife, organised by UNICEF, HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju said here occupation of schools by security forces engaged in operations in conflict-hit areas, particularly Naxal-affected districts, has been one of the reasons for the extremists targeting educational institutions.

“Clear-cut instructions have been issued to the states to ensure that no school building is used or occupied by the security forces and states have ensured that school buildings are free of such occupation,” the Minister said.

Raju asked the collectors of the mineral-rich Naxal-affected districts to utilise the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to construct girls’ toilets and address the drinking water problem.

“District collectors should encourage CSR funds to be spent in these areas especially on girls toilets,” the Minister said.

Earlier, addressing the conference, several education experts including National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairperson Shantha Sinha said there were instances of schools being occupied by the security forces and teachers being unable to go there.

Schools had become kind of non-functional in such areas, they said at the conference attended by top UNICEF officials.

Meanwhile, a concept note, distributed at the conference, suggested that schools can be made into zones of peace (SZOP) through collaborative efforts.

The paper, prepared by an independent consultant in education Geeta Menon, noted that Nepal provides a powerful example on how schools could be made into peace zones during the armed conflict in that country.