Advice For School Teachers: Dare To Be Strict
By Ms.Swaleha Sindhi
21 February, 2015
The system of education in India is devised to inculcate the philosophical, political, social norms and skills for economic activities into the students to create progressive society. There are many things schools can do to create an environment which is safe and supportive educationally sound for the whole school community. The benefits of creating a positive quality culture within the school are wide spread and can include a reduction in undesirable behaviour. But are the schools making efforts to achieve these targets? This is a crucial question to be answered by school authorities in rural as well as urban India. Documentary evidence points to the persistence of discrimination based on social, economic, linguistic and religious identities inside the school. Children are subject to corporal punishment in schools, hostels, orphanages, ashram shalas, and juvenile homes and even in the family setting. The corporal punishment is a regular affair in thousands of schools in India. Children not only carry overload of text books and note books on their tender backs, but bear the brunt of canes for silly reasons like socks. Shoes, shoe laces, ribbon color, plating hair, oiling hair, putting nail paint, 'kneel down' under hot sun, to complete the assigned writing work in kneel down position (kneeling down on the earth is painful). The time has come to re-examine the saying 'spare the rod and spoil the child'. Children are at receiving end both at their own homes and schools from parents, teachers and non-teaching school authorities. Almost all schools inflict corporal punishments on students for various reasons. However, law basically does not agree with any excessive punishment to beings, which would be definitely a violation of personal right.
It is now globally recognized that punishment in any form or kind in school comes in the way of the development of the full potential of children. Currently, there is no statutory definition of corporal punishment of children in Indian law. Definition of corporal punishment can at best only be indicative. Article 21A of the Constitution provides that “the State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.” In keeping with the provisions of the RTE Act, 2009, corporal punishment could be classified as physical punishment, mental harassment and discrimination. Discrimination is understood as prejudiced views and behaviour towards any child because of her/his caste/gender, occupation or region and non-payment of fees or for being a student admitted under the 25% reservation to disadvantaged groups or weaker sections of society under the RTE, 2009.
Some examples for Positive engagement with children
• Pay positive attention
• Appreciate verbally good students
• Focus on the positives of every child, even the most difficult ones
• Never compare performance of two children
• Use motivational award chart or points or additional marks or house points for good behaviour
• Award children for demonstrating values such as responsibility, honesty, caring, etc.
• Be accommodating of children who require remedial teaching
• Ignore minor incidents or lapses
• Set clear limits
• Include children in framing discipline policies
• Explain clearly the classroom behaviour expectations that the children have framed together.
• The negative reinforcement should be appropriate and fair
Role of school management/administration
• All staff associated with the school should be subject to discipline guidelines.
• All staff should ensure that all children enjoy their rights as per the RTE Act.
• All staff should ensure that the child is treated in a manner that encourages him or her to stay in school and learn to his or her potential.
• To achieve the aims of RTE teachers should not take on the role of parent.
• No physical punishment of any kind should be permitted.
• No mental harassment of any kind should be permitted.
• No form of discrimination based on gender, caste, class, disability, etc., should be permitted.
• Any instance of corporal punishment, mental harassment or discrimination should be dealt with in a time-bound manner in such a way that implications for the child are minimized.
• It should be the responsibility of all staff to create an environment free of all forms of fear, trauma, prejudice and discrimination.
• The treatment of the child in the school should be such that the child feels included and secure.
• Counseling services for children should be made available.
It is responsibility of schools both governments as well as private to be custodians of children during the time the children are in school premises. The management of the schools is supposed to ensure that children are safe from all forms of violence, including corporal punishment. In every case of violence against children the respective management should conduct an independent investigation, thus taking responsibility for what goes on in school and not rely simply on enquiries conducted by the school. As required under Section 32(1) of the RTE Act, State Governments and UT Administrations should designate appropriate ‘local authority’ and notify the same to all concerned for the purpose of redressing the grievances relating to corporal punishment and discrimination. The School Boards should also issue instructions immediately to all schools affiliated to them to abide by the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 as well as the Rules and Guidelines framed/issued/notified there under. They should have a test check in this regard once in a year.
(Ms.Swaleha Sindhi is Assistant Professor in Department of Educational Administration The M.S.University of Baroda. Gujarat. Email at: email@example.com)
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