SCHOOL INSPECTOR – MINORS (11/11/08)- ALLEGED SEXUAL AGGRESSION
(No. B/1212) Mrs F. Labelle (Third Member for Vacoas and Floreal) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the recent alleged case of sexual aggression on minors by a school inspector, he will state if his Ministry has initiated an inquiry in relation to the reported previous alleged cases on minors by the school inspector, indicating the outcome thereof.
Dr. Bunwaree: Mr Speaker, Sir, with your permission, I will reply to PQ Nos. B/1212 and B/1252 as they both relate to the same subject matter.
Regarding the alleged cases of sexual abuse by teachers on their pupils, I wish to inform the House that my Ministry is in the presence of seven cases since 2003.
I am informed that three officers have so far been interdicted in the light of the Police report.
The contract of one officer has been terminated immediately and two cases are still under enquiry at the Police Department.
One case is still sub judice before the District Court. Initially it was a case of “attempt upon chastity”. The Director of Public Prosecutions has, however, now advised prosecution against the teacher for “assault”.
As regards the case of sexual abuse on minors recently reported against a School Inspector, as mentioned in PQ No. B/1212, there is only one other reported case against that officer. I am advised that the Superintendent of Police, Plaines Wilhems/Black River had informed my Ministry on 23 September 1999 that the School Inspector, the then Deputy Head Teacher posted to H. Chooroomooney Government School, was on 05 August 1999 allegedly involved in a case of sexual abuse. However, my Ministry was informed on 15 November 2000 by the Commissioner of Police that the Director of Public Prosecutions had advised no further action into the case of sexual assault reported against the then Deputy Head Teacher.
I wish to draw the attention of the House to the fact that my Ministry has started to trace back any other alleged case of abuse during the previous 53
posting of that officer. However, the House will understand the practical and legal difficulties in such cases.
Mr Speaker, Sir, normally whenever any form of abuse is reported to my Ministry, in accordance with regulation 31(1) of the Public Service Commission Regulations, the responsible officer, may, where he is satisfied that the offence is serious enough to warrant interdiction, interdict an officer immediately from the exercise of the powers and functions of his office where criminal proceedings are being instituted against the officer.
Moreover, regulation 32(1) of the Public Service Commission Regulations provides that “where a preliminary investigation or disciplinary inquiry discloses that an offence against any law may have been committed by a public officer, the responsible officer shall forthwith refer the case to the Commissioner of Police for necessary action” while, at the same time, interdicting the officer.
However, it is only if, following Police enquiry, the Director of Public Prosecution does not advise prosecution that disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against a public officer in accordance with PSC Regulation 37 or 38. I must say that I am having a special look at this because it defeats its purpose.
I further wish to inform the House that any pupil who is victim of sexual abuse is, immediately after the happening, given all possible attention, psychological support and taken good care of by my Ministry.
As soon as the case is reported to the Police –
(i) the Educational Psychologist of my Ministry provides counselling to the child and parents and makes appropriate recommendations to the Head of School;
(ii) Educational Social Workers of the National Education Counselling Service of my Ministry conduct home visits to the family concerned, and
(iii) a Clinical Psychologist of the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare provides psychotherapy to the pupil. 54
Moreover, Mr Speaker, Sir, with the recent cases of alleged abuse and paedophile, I have instituted a system for the monitoring of any alleged case, anonymous or otherwise, and a committee is presently working in close collaboration with stakeholders, especially the team of psychologists of my Ministry and of the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare to set up a reliable system to deal with such matters, especially on the prevention aspect.
Furthermore, we are also working in collaboration with the Ombudsperson for Children to that regard.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Speaker, Sir, first of all, may I thank the hon. Minister for the other actions already initiated. May I ask the hon. Minister whether any particular actions have been initiated to vulgarise the Section 11 of the Child Protection Act, that is, the duty to report? Because, too often, the cases are not reported. What is being done for the personnel of the schools to be aware of the section of this Act?
Dr. Bunwaree: This is a very interesting point that has been raised. In fact, we are looking into that and that committee is working to find ways and means whereby all this can be taken care of.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister spoke about 7 cases which have been reported to the Ministry. Regarding the 2 cases which are under inquiry and one sub judice, will the hon. Minister state what action has been taken so far? Have these persons been requested to step down pending inquiry and Court proceedings being completed?
Dr. Bunwaree: I don’t know whether we are allowed to ask them to step down in the sense that the inquiry is still going on, but they are not working in the same place that they were supposed to work.
Mr Varma: As regards the school inspector, could the hon. Minister inform the House what is the provisional charge which has been lodged against this school inspector and the stage of the Police inquiry?
Dr. Bunwaree: The inquiry is still going on. The inspector is still not released on bail.
Mr Varma: May I know about the provisional charge?
Dr. Bunwaree: I have to look into that aspect and inform the House. 55
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister has mentioned the role of social workers. Can I ask him what is the ratio of social worker to children and does he consider that one social worker for student population of around 800 is sufficient and sometimes one for each zone?
Dr. Bunwaree: I don’t have the figure to reply offhand, I’ll look into this aspect. I am very much sensitive to what is being said, but I can inform the House that we are doing everything possible, especially to act on the preventive side, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Minister has just mentioned that the teachers who are normally accused are not allowed to work in the same school. But as he has just mentioned that he is placing emphasis on prevention, may I ask the hon. Minister whether he does not consider it quite risky to allow these teachers to remain in contact with students even though they are in other schools?
Dr. Bunwaree: This is, of course, another important aspect also, Mr Speaker, Sir, but when they are not working in another place, they are being followed, I must say, and the psychologist of the school is also taking that into consideration. In fact, we should not also forget that these people must have something wrong in their mind somewhere. We would better consider them as patients at some stage also, although the law is there to be followed, and whatever wrong has been done will have to be punished.
Mrs Labelle: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister mentioned that children who have experienced such traumatic situations are referred to the educational psychologist and it is after that that they will meet a clinical psychologist. May I ask the hon. Minister whether he does not think it fit that these children must be referred to a clinical psychologist in the first instance instead of going to on educational psychologist because I don’t think it is the job of educational psychologists to go for therapy?
Dr. Bunwaree: The hon. Member is right, Mr Speaker, Sir. I have already taken the matter in hand. We are, for the time being, asking the clinical psychologist who is in the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare to step in right at the beginning and, in fact, I am reinforcing the psychologist team of my Ministry to include clinical psychologists. 56
Mrs Hanoomanjee: The hon. Minister has mentioned it and it is a pity that now teachers and inspectors are involved in such acts. But there is a majority of teachers who are there. Does not the hon. Minister think that a minimum training should be given to teachers to help them to detect cases of sexual abuse?
Dr. Bunwaree: A lot is being done at the level of the committee with the help of the psychologist, but the teachers also have to be involved in training.
MINISTER OF EDUCATION, CULTURE AND HUMAN RESOURCES -
ASIAN LANGUAGES - ASSISTANT SUPERVISORS (12/05/09)
(No. B/455) Mr S. Naidu (Third Member for Beau Bassin and Petite
Rivière) asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources whether, in regard to the vacancies in the post of Assistant Supervisors in Asian languages, he will state the number thereof in each case, indicating –
(a) since when, and
(b) the reasons for the delay in the filling thereof, if any.
Reply: I am informed that there are 13 vacancies in all in respect of the post of Assistant Supervisor (Oriental Language) as at May 2009 out of which 2 in Hindi, 1 in Urdu, 5 in Tamil, 1 in Telugu, 2 in Marathi, 1 in Arabic and 1 in Mandarin.
As regards part (a) of the question, the vacancies occurred as from the
following dates in each Oriental Language:
(i) Hindi since March 2008
(ii) Urdu since August 2008
(iii) Tamil since December 2006
(iv) Telugu since June 2008
(v) Marathi since August 2007
(vi) Arabic since September 2007
(vii) Mandarin since July 2006
The only candidate was appointed Deputy Head Teacher in December 2007 and will complete her 3 years experience in December 2010. She will then be able to postulate for the post of Assistant Supervisor Regarding part (b), I am informed that the Scheme of Service for the post of Assistant Supervisor (OL) is being reviewed and this is why it has not been possible to fill vacancies so far. The review has been a lengthy and time consuming procedure and my Ministry is expediting matters for its finalization to ensure that recruitment is made by PSC in 2 months time.