The disheartening news that E. Chintu, a thirteen-year-old class VIII boy in Guntur district died recently, undergoing treatment for a paralysing spinal injury after being beaten by his teacher in his native village two weeks ago, must make every right thinking people to strive to end this heinous act of corporal punishment in schools.

Several alarming incidents also occurred in recent years in two high schools in Nalgonda district within a gap of two days and were widely reported in the press.

A teacher in a government school broke 12 canes on the backs of each of the same number of boys in the class leaving them with bleeding injuries.

The teacher when questioned by the parents and the furious public, was reported to have justified her action telling that she had beaten them with the ‘good intention of helping them to keep pace with the curriculum.’

Yet in another similar incident, in a private school, a teacher slapped two boys in the classroom for their questioning his teaching standards and telling that they could not grasp the lessons he taught.

The obnoxious practice of beating children in the school, particularly in the primary and high school level has unfortunately survived unabated. The indiscriminate use of cane by teachers in the classroom continues as a legacy. It is also to be seen that such reports usually come from the government run rural schools where the surveillance on the teachers by the authorities hardly exist, than in the private corporate schools in the urban and semi-urban centres.

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This is also to an extent due to the infiltration of mere career seekers into the rank and file of teaching cadres. Gone are the days when only those who had flair for teaching with commitment took to the profession; but now teaching is considered no more than just a career. There is need to provide in the syllabi of the teacher training programmes on the treatment to be meted out to wards, particularly the slow learners, while imparting education.

In this regard, it is interesting to note that certain cardinal ethics in teaching according to Theosophy. Theosophists believe that each child should be studied, not coerced, be helped to grow and find himself/herself. Love and not fear could bring around even the spoilt child.

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J. Krishnamurti, though weaned away from Theosophy at a later date, also subscribed to the same view and said that imposing any kind of discipline is suppression and is the result of fear.

His remedy to indiscipline among children is to have the right type of education imparted than to resort to any kind of punishment. It is to be noted that Dr. Annie Besant could see to it that the use of cane was abolished in all the schools run by the Theosophical Society.

She strongly felt that caning the children was nothing short of a social evil.

It is not only the Theosophy and the concept of national education during the period of freedom movement that advocated abhorring of corporal punishment to the wards in the class.

The resolution of 22 August 1974, of the Government of India on the National Policy for Children, has clearly pointed out: “The nation’s children are a supremely important asset. Their nature and solicitude are our responsibility. Children’s programmes should find a prominent part in our national plans for the development of human resources, so that our children grow up to become robust citizens, physically fit, mentally alert and morally healthy, endowed with skills and motivations needed by society. Equal opportunities for development to all children during the period of growth should be our aim.” Punishment of any type by the teachers even with good intentions, therefore, is detrimental to the overall growth of the child.

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The spirit with which the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 was promulgated and the establishment of National Human Rights Commission also envisages fair treatment to every child. Therefore, it is not merely the much needed moderation that necessitates a ban on corporal punishment to the children, but even the greater meaning to the definition of human rights of children warrants that such a punishment is cruel, savagery and not in consonance with the changed social ethos.

The governmental agencies, the voluntary social organisations and the general public should rise to address this social evil and see that the inhuman practice of using cane in the classroom is put to and end without any delay. #KhabarLive