Some schools ‘quietly’ conduct sexual awareness sessions with young students

Teachers, parents welcome initiative

Zubair Qureshi

In the backdrop of recent rape and murder incidents in Kasur and Bhalwal (Sargodha), sessions on sexual harassment were held with primary students of a number of model schools especially the girls’ schools of the federal capital. However, this commendable activity was done quietly without the knowledge of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE).
Teachers of a couple of schools and colleges told Pakistan Observer here on Friday that principals of their institutes on Friday (also on Thursday) called their vice principals and senior teachers before the classes in their offices and discussed with them the possibility of holding sessions and raising the issue with the young minds. There were a few murmurs of disapproval regarding whether it would be appropriate to hold such awareness sessions without the knowledge of the FDE. However, the majority of the staff members agreed there was a need to discuss this with students in a frank and friendly way.
A 2-class teacher of a Model School (I-V) later confirmed to Pakistan Observe that her vice principal came to her class and asked her to discuss with the boys and girls this issue however keeping in mind its sensitivity.
“When my vice-principal asked me to engage the students in understanding how sensitive and serious the matter was, I was a bit nervous first but when I started discussing the matter, I gained confidence as students too, took interest how they could prevent or report an act of harassment,” she said. Another primary class teacher told this scribe that the senior teachers of her school were reluctant in raising the matter with the students and thus shunned the subject but the younger ones were quite comfortable and forthcoming did not face any problem in discussing this issue with the students.”
The teacher went on to say that the students were cautioned against any uncle or aunt touching the private parts of their bodies or behaving with them in an objectionable manner. I told my class boys and girls, the students of class 3 to shout or report to their parents immediately when some uncle or aunt or anyone from the neighbourhood does so. If their parents are away they can tell someone close to them that the particular man or woman was touching their private parts or hugging them quite often, said she. Terming the privately held sexual harassment sessions with the young and innocent minds quite useful and meaningful the female teachers of the schools emphasized they should be held regularly. We would be glad if FDE also takes a step in this direction and instead of observing non-interference policy, it should come forward and issue an official notification that in each school and college where primary classes are held, such sessions should be held as there is no harm to raise the issue with the students.

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