The red, blue and yellow walls of Gunjan Play School in Noida, a suburb east of India’s capital, are conspicuous in the afternoon sun. Many of the students have left, but the chatter of children fills the air and occasional peals of laughter still ring out from the classrooms.
Urvashi Chakravarty has just stepped out after spending several hours teaching and looking after as many as 40 children. Clad in a crisp purple sari, she is still on duty, waiting for parents to come and get their little ones before she can sign off for the day.
“There are some people who, when running late, tell us to let their kids wait outside with the guards. We don’t allow that. It upsets them but facing a bit of anger is a small price to pay for ensuring safety,” said Chakravarty, who has been running the school for eight years.
In a country with a steadily rising graph of child abuse, schools can never be too cautious. Last month’s assault on a 6-year-old girl at a private school in India’s IT capital of Bangalore in Karnataka became front-page news, triggering protests by parents and the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
A citywide strike shut schools and public transport in Bangalore on Thursday, a day after media reports said another schoolgirl had been sexually assaulted. In July, a teacher in the adjoining state of Andhra Pradesh was caught on camera caning a blind child, while another video clip showed a private tutor hitting a toddler in Kolkata.