Saturday, June 12, 2010

Corporal Punishment Should Be A Crime

Whenever I hear about a student being either driven to suicide or takes of public humiliation at the hands of the school teachers, I cringe. The recent incident (here and here) of a Calcutta-based student, Rouvanjit Rawla who committed suicide because he was caned, beaten, tormented and humiliated in front of his students only goes to show that the Indian education system has still a lot of catching up to do.

The response of the school is most pathetic:

"As a school, we deeply regret the loss of young life. Attempts being made to hold the school entirely responsible are certainly misplaced. There are times when children need to be corrected and helped. The idea has always been to inculcate a sense of values amongst them. It is also important for the school to ensure that there is an environment conducive to learning and often corrective measures have to be taken to ensure this environment is not vitiated in the interest of the larger student community of the school," read the statement, signed by governing board secretary Supriyo Dhar. 

Values and discipline, bull shit. Little children don't commit suicide for fun. Rawla must have faced utter humiliation from his teachers to be driven to such a drastic step like suicide. When young children are humiliated in front of their classmates, consistently beaten up for flimsy reasons while their teachers go about proclaiming their barbaric actions as acts of discipline, it scars their minds for a long time.

And, more often than not, this culture of corporal punishment comes from the top, either perpetrated or encouraged- subtly or otherwise. The fact that the the school principal of Le Martiniere School himself allegedly caned students shows the kind of culture that was prevalent in this school.

I am not surprised that despite the state government of Bengal banning corporal punishment nearly three years, this practice has been going on at the school. Corporal punishment is a common occurrence. I have myself faced this when I was in school. Even my 1st standard teacher used to beat her students; she was anyways huge, looked intimidating and scary. And it doesn't really make much of a difference in the Indian schemes of things whether or not there is a government rule banning such practices because there's no way to monitor. No wait, there is a way, but no will to monitor. Some teachers aren't sensitized and students too think that being beaten and humiliated is acceptable and normal. Many times our parents too think at some bizarre level that corporal punishment is instills discipline.

According to the above Indian Express report, caning and calling student names at La Martiniere were a common occurrence. It's unfortunate that it takes a student's life to wake us up to the horrors of corporal punishment, something which has been going on for years and complaints of several children, not just of La Martiniere but of schools all over India, fell on deaf years. Until, we lost Rouvanjit Rawla.

1 comment:

  1. Appreciate the decision to stop corporal punishment, but I know it is not so easy to follow. I too suffered with this kind of inhuman punishment, any how if teacher will find any better way to control student then I welcome , yes I agree that punishment can make discipline but it can also stay away student from teacher to share their problems. I read some interesting on http://www.lawisgreek.com/?s=Corporal+Punishment

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