By Kimberly Rowe, Mumbai : “Teacher canes student severely, student dies of multiple injuries”, “Student commits suicide due to humiliation”, “Student faints as teacher hits her on the head”; all these headlines splash across newspapers and news channels uncontrollably but what is actually being done to stop corporal punishment in India?
A Supreme Court judgment in 2000 prohibited corporal punishment in all forms in India. However, it has been implemented only in 17 of 28 states and even in these 17 states, there is lack of enforcement. This is because not only teachers, even some parents believe in physical punishments being implemented. Therefore, students do not know who to approach for help when they’re in such crisis. Corporal punishment only bestows fear and anxiety into the minds of the students. Instead, why can’t teachers use methods which students will learn from such as solving sums, drawing diagrams, learning answers or spellings? Such punishments will help students learn and will take them a long way during their examinations. It will benefit their academics. Discipline too can be brought into students through effective counselling. Having just completed my schooling from 4 different schools in 4 different states, I have seen that at some point or the other most teachers punish students by caning them, hitting them, slapping them, pinching them, making them do 100 push-ups, making them kneel down or stand in the sun all day.
Besides, such punishments are given for minor faults like talking, fiddling, not paying attention, wearing a uniform which is shorter than regulations, not polishing shoes, etc. I once overheard a principal speak during the assembly and this is what she said “Until you whack the child they will never improve!” As all the students stood mournfully silent, the teachers grinned around tickled with pleasure. Knowing that corporal punishment is banned in India, the teachers fear no one as school principals themselves are constantly encouraging teachers to imply such punishments on so-called, “troublesome specimens”.
Not only are teachers performing unhealthy practices on students, they are also using abusive language at times. Unfortunately, students are not standing up for themselves, nor are their parents standing up for them. It’s high time the government looks deeply into the matter and conducts surprise checks in every Indian school, big or small. Also, a committee should be set up so that students can approach for help directly whenever needed and complaints can be made when corporal punishments are enforced on them. This is the only way through which students will be spared the torment and teachers will learn to abide by the Supreme Court’s judgement. Personally, I don’t think there is anyone who has gone through their schooling in India without experiencing all of this. I shudder to think of the many students who might be going through this torture on a daily basis!