Strict action needed to curb corporal punishment, say citizens

April 17th, 2009 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) Shock and horror was the reaction of people Friday to the news of an 11-year-old girl’s death after her school teacher allegedly punished her for not learning her lessons. Take strict action against teachers who use physical force to punish students, was the people’s unanimous view.
Anshu Borah, a primary school teacher in Guwahati, Assam, told IANS by phone: “I have no words to express how shocked I am after seeing images on television and reading about the incident. As a teacher I know that even a slight reprimand can break a child’s heart, make them feel small and embarrassed.”

“This kind of physical brutality, therefore, is unthinkable. Not only is it unlawful, but also barbaric,” Borah said.

Shano Khan died in the national capital Friday after slipping into coma due to the alleged punishment her teacher meted out to her. She was reportedly hit and made to stand in the searing sun for not remembering the alphabets. The police initially did not register a case, but did so after the girl died.

Shano, a student of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) primary school in Narela in north Delhi, slipped into a coma Wednesday after her teacher Manju made her stand in the sun for more than an hour.

The girl was taken to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital Thursday evening after her condition deteriorated.

Well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, the Independent candidate from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, spoke against corporal punishment. “Corporal punishment should be strictly banned in India. The justice system here is 20 years behind the times, and hence, all these persist. The teacher should be punished now and not five years later.”

Social activist Ranjana Kumari too spoke against it: “These incidents are a shame to us and absolutely condemnable. Corporal punishment is a heinous crime that is dangerously becoming a regular feature. This is not an isolated case and action has to be taken immediately.”

Many, however, feel that suspension of the school principal or termination of the accused teacher’s services is not the solution.

“Will the suspension or termination of the teacher bring back the girl’s life? And more importantly, is this action stringent enough? I don’t think so. Far too many cases of corporal punishment have been surfacing in the media over the past few months, which is a dangerous trend. Therefore, stricter action needs to be taken before it’s too late,” said Ravi Verma, a college student in Delhi.

Ragini Sharma, a Bangalore based student, added: “I was in a residential school where corporal punishment was strictly banned. If we had to be punished, we were given detention - which means that you had to spend the weekend in a classroom with a teacher - doing some task. We used to be terrified of that!”

“I remember once our computer teacher hit a girl in my class, after which he was removed immediately. Such an incident never happened again,” Sharma told IANS.

Ashok Agarwal, lawyer and member of Abhibhavak Sangh, an NGO, said: “In the past few years there has not been even one case of a teacher being punished after injuring a student. They roam scot free. The political leaders protect and guard these teachers. Compensation is just a temporary relief. What about a permanent solution to ban corporal punishment?”

Sandhya Bajaj, member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), agreed, saying that there needs to be more awareness programmes among school authorities to “respect their students”.

“Corporal punishment is banned in schools, yet it persists everywhere. There must be more awareness and sensitisation programmes in schools,” Bajaj told IANS.

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