September 1, 2012 7:03:57 am
Anjana s,a student in Class IX,and her classmate Vidhya Lakshmi are like any other teenagers in high school.
Anjana s,a student in Class IX,and her classmate Vidhya Lakshmi are like any other teenagers in high school. Except that they take social responsibility very seriously. Today,I have the courage to tell my father to stop smoking, says Anjana. Lakshmi,displays a comparable level of confidence and maturity. I used to quarrel with my mother often,now Im learning restraint, she says. They both hope to join the police force one day,and their training has already begun. They are part of the Student Police Cadets (SPC) project launched by the Kerala police in Kozhikode two years ago. A melding of the nuances of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and the National Service Scheme (NSS),the SPC undergo physical training,are given lectures on a multitude of social issues and also pitch in at the community level from manning traffic signals to keeping a watch for drug abuse within their localities.
The initiative,a first-of-its-kind in India,stemmed from a police-student interaction held in Kochi in 2006. SPC state nodal officer and Thrissur city police chief P Vijayan (then the Kochi police chief),who prepared the pilot project,says,Over 400 students from 30 schools in Kochi attended the workshop. The project was implemented in two schools St Peters Vocational Higher Secondary School,Kolenchery,and Government Vocational Higher Secondary School,Eringol in Ernakulam district in 2008. At a state school festival held in Kozhikode in early 2010,trained SPC were deployed to assist the police in traffic and crowd management. Their efficacious intervention had the government issue an all-Kerala roll out of the project. Subsequently,educational,excise,forest,local bodies and motor vehicle departments,were roped in to provide their professional expertise to the students. Down to district and village levels,the administrative panels have representatives from all these departments.
Students from Class VIII to Class XI are selected for a two-year training programme from each school. They are given a physical fitness test before they enrol. It will enhance the overall personality of students. They are trained to respect law,resist social evils,develop civic sense and empathise with the weaker sections of society, says Vijayan.
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Local policemen are nominated as drill instructors. Vijayan says,An assessment of the project by the State Institute for Educational Management and Training has shown that students,parents,teachers and instructors have all gained from this initiative. Some instructors had stopped smoking to become child-friendly.
According to A Ayoob,community police officer at the Government Higher Secondary School,Ottappalam,Direct interaction with the police has helped reduce crime in and around schools. NC Clinton,a Class XII student,joined the SPC last year after he noticed a change in the behaviour of his seniors. Abhijith PK,another student,says,I have learnt how to organise my life better. Some of them hope to join the police in the future. If we can develop quality human capital at an early age,it could change the future of policing. The training will stand them in good stead, says Vijayan.
The All-India Police Science Congress 2011 had recommended that all states emulate the Kerala SPC model. The Rajasthan government recently deputed a delegation to study the project,while other states too have shown interest. In the current academic year,more than 254 schools have enrolled over 16,000 SPC students. Nearly 500 trained teachers,as honorary sub-inspectors,function as community police officers. The state government allots Rs 1 lakh for each school to meet the cost of uniforms and miscellaneous expenses.
The Malappuram district nodal officer and deputy superintendent of police,U Abdul Kareem says the classroom lectures have also helped economically-backward students,who are not part of the SPC. In many government-aided schools,these students are trained for civil service exams. Such sessions are free of cost for them,says Kareem. It has changed parents perspective too. Conservative Muslim parents too,are willing to send their daughters for the programme. While the sessions have been planned to accommodate madrasa classes,parents dont insist that their girls wear veils while taking part in the parade.
The SPC is a not a feeder outfit of the police. Ultimately,it is meant to groom the youth,make them sensitive to societal laws and help them maintain civic discipline, says Vijayan.
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