The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has sent a notice to the commissioner of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) to appoint hostel wardens at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNV), which the Samiti classifies as model residential schools for talented children from rural India.
The NCPCR had earlier sent similar notices to the Education Ministry’s task force for ‘prevention of suicides in JNVs’ in March 2019, and to the NVS in September this year, directing that wardens be appointed in every JNV branch, with no result.
The NVS, an autonomous organisation under the Union Education Ministry, is responsible for running the JNVs.
The recent notice, sent by NCPCR on November 24, mentions The Indian Express’s 2018 investigation on student suicides at these schools. It asks the NVS commissioner to submit an action taken report within seven working days.
On December 24, 2018, The Indian Express had reported that JNVs reported 49 student suicides between 2013 and 2017, with more than half the students — 25 — from Dalit or tribal communities.
The investigation revealed that there are few trained counselors on campus and “overburdened” teachers are largely left to look after the welfare of students.
Within a year of the investigation being published, the Education Ministry cleared a proposal to hire full-time counselors for these more than 600 prestigious residential schools in rural areas. But with the government yet to appoint hostel wardens, JNV teachers continue to serve as ‘House Masters’, responsible for students’ well-being — a responsibility that they say is difficult to carry out, as they are already burdened with a lot of non-academic work.
NCPCR’s notice to the NVS commissioner is based on a complaint filed by Kerala-based JNV teacher Rajan K M.
NVS commissioner Vinayak Garg did not respond to The Indian Express’s questions on the NCPCR notice and plans to appoint wardens at JNVs.