HEADTEACHERS and principals have been encouraged to appoint a child protection officer in their respective schools.
This was the message to about 100 heads of schools at a Central Division headteachers workshop organised by the Ministry of Education at Jai Narayan College.
Central division education officer Serupepeli Udre in addressing the heads of schools under the Central Division encouraged them to learn the child protection policy and to apply the relevant laws and regulations safeguarded under the policy when necessary.
Mr Udre said the Ministry of Education was aware of incidents where teachers were involved with their students or cases where students had been physically or sexually abused by their teachers and it was necessary for heads of schools to know what to do when dealing with those cases.
He said it was interesting to know that most faith-based schools had employed the services of professional counsellors in their schools who were paid by the school's organising committee.
"The role of a child protection officer is to assist the school in all child protection issues, to keep and maintain a record of all child protection information of the school and shall also be the school's counsellor," Mr Udre said.
Teachers were also informed of the steps to take when allegations had been made against a teacher on issues that might involve police.
Mr Udre clarified that there were three ways to deal with complaints against teachers and for cases where police were involved.
He said the teacher must be immediately suspended from the school the teacher was posted to and stationed at the headquarters pending further police and MoE investigations.
"The suspension and termination is done by the permanent secretary, at school level the teacher must be suspended from the school and brought to the office," Mr Udre said.