Published: 11th July 2022
Odisha gov't bans entry of journalists into schools, Pradhan calls it 'inappropriate'
Several journalists associations opposed the move by the government and demanded its roll back
The Odisha government has banned the entry of journalists into schools in some areas after news channels showed how students were poor in mathematics, triggering a political row. While hitting out at the state government for this decision, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the press, which is the fourth pillar of democracy, cannot be stopped from entering a public institution, as stated in a report by the PTI.
The Dhenkanal District Education Officer (DEO) on Saturday, June 9, directed the Block Education Officers (BEO) and school headmasters to not allow unauthorised entry of journalists into schools and classrooms and to report such matters to the police. In fact, a similar directive was also issued in the Kendrapara district. The government's decision came after some news channels reported students' performance in mathematics — with Class V pupils unable to recollect simple tables, official sources said.
"It is inappropriate to impose restrictions on media's entry into school campuses. In a democratic set-up, a school is a public institution. Media should not create disturbance in the process of learning, but the fourth pillar of democracy cannot be denied entry into campuses for the purpose of collecting news," Pradhan said. BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi, who is well known for her work as the state's School and Mass Education Secretary, said that she was surprised with the directive. "It is unfortunate and the order should be withdrawn immediately," she added.
In fact, this is not the first time that such restrictions have been imposed on journalists, according to Senior Congress MLA Suresh Routray "They are yet to get entry into the assembly in the name of COVID-19. Journalists have been denied entry to the state secretariat for two years and also the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack," he said.
School and Mass Education Minister SR Dash defended the government and said that the press has the right to highlight wrongs, but reporters of some web portals were entering campuses without permission and disturbing the atmosphere of the schools. Different journalist associations in the state also opposed the move, demanding its roll back.