‘Children made to clean school, staff neglecting duties’

Inquiry initiated by the Special Education district officer.

Our Correspondent July 11, 2013
"The allegations are ‘baseless’… I will tell my side of the story to the inquiry officer," Principal Majida Butt. PHOTO FILE

LAHORE: The district officer (DO) for special education is conducting an inquiry into allegations of negligence and ‘inhuman behaviour’ by the staff at one of the schools managed by the department, The Express Tribune has learnt.

As many as 86 special kids are enrolled in the Government Centre for Special Education Wagha that was set up in 2006. The school employs five teachers, a speech therapist and a psychologist apart from the principal.

An official of the department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the investigation was being carried out at the request of parents of the children enrolled in the school. The parents had written to DO Muhammad Fayyaz, saying that the principal Majida Butt and the staff were neglecting their duties. The principal visited the school only once a week, said the letter, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.

The principal, said the parents, had also not paid the Rs800 monthly stipend and provided the uniform that they are entitled to under the special education policy. Instead, the school had asked them to pay Rs100 for opening bank accounts for the children, they said.

The children were being treated like slaves and not receiving any training to make them respectable citizens, they said.

The letter also said that Butt had given a sweeper Shahzad Masih the authority to manage the administrative and financial affairs. Masih, the parents alleged, made the kids clean the school and stayed back after school hours to use the internet to watch films and dramas.

The parents complained that the management had banned them from the school. Parent-teacher meetings hadn’t been held for a long time either, the letter said. The letter also accused the psychologist, a Ms Kausar, of negligence. The parents said the woman visited the school only once a week and spent the day “gossiping with the principal”.

Parents The Express Tribune talked to said the principal was pressuring them to withdraw the application and had threatened them with the expulsion of their children.

Butt dismissed the allegations as ‘baseless’, saying she would tell her side of the story to the inquiry officer.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.


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