Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hey Teacher! Leave those kids alone.

It was with great sadness that I read about the third suicide of a girl which was triggered by a teacher who had kept her kneeling for a long time in the play ground. This girl was not from a posh school neither were her parents considered well off. So I guess the media has not picked up the story. There was no outrage about it like the two previous suicides. Or it has missed me completely. I just read about it in the Ravaya paper today. In this case girl studying in year 8 of Dudley Senanayake College in Narahenpita had gone home and hung herself because of the shame which was caused by the punishment she received.

I believe children should be punished if they do something wrong. But I do NOT believe in corporal punishment in an uncontrolled environment. I am a firm believer that there should be a set frame work which all teachers should follow when it comes to punishing kids. What is considered wrong and requires punishment should be well defined as well as how the punishment is meted out. In this particular case it is said that this kid was writing a letter to a boy and she was caught while doing so. Now to me this is not a crime in the first place. If the law of the land can carefully define what is considered a criminal act and what the minimum and maximum punishment one can receive for a particular crime should not it be the same in the case of children especially when they are schooling. Because this is the age which they are the most vulnerable and some things which happen during this time can affect them for life.

When I was in school I have received enough slaps from teachers. I did not think much of it then. It was part and parcel of school life. But looking back I realize most of those slaps and caning were done out of anger as an reaction. And the last thing you should be doing is hurting someone defenseless out of anger.

I also believe teachers come with a lot of their own personal emotional baggage. And they can be really nasty. Thank god I never had to cross paths with one during my entire schooling period which was quite short thankfully. However I know that both my daughters had to deal with teachers with issues and that really affected their self confidence. Sadly the situation today is that there are very few career teachers whose main passion is to impart knowledge to kids. I believe it is purely a situation created by economics. The brightest and the best minds would be naturally attracted to the private sector where the salaries and perks would be far greater than in the teaching profession. Look at how much a government teacher would get and compare it against the starting salary of a junior management trainee. I believe the average salary of a teacher is Rs.10,000/- in Sri Lanka today. That’s what a trainee with just his O levels gets in a company as an allowance. Need I say more?

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