Schools deny allegation; parents have lodged police complaints.
Two new cases of school children being beaten up by their teachers were reported in the city last week, raising questions on the effectiveness of school managements in sensitising staff to the trauma that such acts can cause and laws that prohibit corporal punishment and mental harassment.
On December 10, a 13-year-old student of Christ Academy School in Koparkhairne was reportedly slapped and pinched by his class teacher for failing to prepare a speech for a school event. The Class VII student was reportedly traumatised by the physical punishment.
Last Tuesday, an 11-year-old student of Abhudaya Dwarli Vidyalaya in Kalyan (East) was allegedly slapped so hard by a teacher that she was left with a swelling in an ear. The Class VI student, Monica Rane, had to be admitted to a hospital. While the two schools have denied these incidents, parents of the students have filed non-cognizable complaints against the teachers.
“We admitted our daughter to the Central hospital in Ulhasnagar. We are afraid that her eardrum is damaged. We will get the reports from the hospital tomorrow. We have already filed a police complaint. The school management is taking the matter very lightly,” said Murlidhar Rane, Monica’s father.
Prahlad Lemade, Principal, Abhudaya Dwarli Vidyalaya said the school was investigating the matter.
Ashish Chawda, parent of the student of Christ Academy School said, “My son was so shocked and embarrassed that he hardly spoke to us. He was unprepared to deliver the speech that day; he got nervous and could not even read out another speech handed to him by the teacher. This does not give the teacher any right to slap him and humiliate him in front of the class.”
Principal Jason Vaddakethala refused to speak.
The Right to Education Act prohibits physical punishment or mental harassment and makes teachers contravening this liable to disciplinary action. “While the RTE Act specifically mentions that corporal punishment should be banned in schools, it does not mention about any punitive measures that should be taken when such a case is reported,” Arundhati Chavan, president of PTA United Forum.
Chavan claims that the actual number of such cases is much higher than what comes to light. “We keep getting complaints from parents about their children being beaten up or harassed. However, even after knowing about their kids being subjected to corporal punishment, most parents refuse to report the matter to school management or to the education department.”
A 2000 Supreme Court judgment prohibited corporal punishment in all forms in India. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) also issued guidelines to the education departments of states and various chief secretaries.
Basanti Roy, educationist and former secretary of Maharashtra state board’s Mumbai Division said, “Teachers cannot beat student or humiliate them. I believe a thorough investigation should be done and both sides should be heard. In case the teacher is found guilty, the school must take stringent action against her or him. Parents must also take note if the incidents are serious.”
Discipline is a relative term. Kids always make noise, and are mischevious. To discipline them and stop them from misbehaving, teachers in our school use stories and anecdotes. In serious cases, parents are called to the school and the matter is discussed. To make all this possible, we organise workshops for teachers on a regular basis
Guru Prasad Rege, Trustee, Balmohan Vidyamandir, Dadar
Schools and parents need to work together assume the responsibility of instilling values and discipline in the child. Corporal punishment should not be allowed and strict action should be taken against teachers. No teacher should beat up a child. It is important to understand the root cause so that remedial measures may be taken
Hanif Kanjer, Director, Rustomjee Cambridge International School, Dahisar