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School CP - June 2003

Borneo Bulletin, Brunei, 16 June 2003

Slapped for skipping school on b'day, Indian boy commits suicide

NEW DELHI (dpa) - An Indian student, who skipped school to celebrate his birthday, committed suicide after he was allegedly thrashed by his teacher, a news report said Sunday. Sixteen-year-old P.S. Ramu Abhinav, a class 10 student in the southern city of Madras [aka Chennai], was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his house, the Indian Express newspaper reported.

He left behind a note saying he was killing himself because he "did not want to go to school". A day earlier, Abhinav was allegedly beaten by his math teacher for missing classes. The student had not gone to school because it was his birthday and his parents had planned a celebration, the report said.

The math teacher, Kannappan, has been arrested, following a complaint by the boy's father, the newspaper said.

Corporal punishment continues unchecked in several Indian schools, with many teachers and even the administration believing it is the best form of discipline.

In February, a school student near Madras fell unconscious for about two hours after her botany teacher allegedly pounded her with a hardbound book, The Hindu newspaper reported.

The student, Caroline Daffadil, received no immediate medical attention, continues to have problems with her neck and requires physiotherapy every day, the report said.

Earlier this year, 15 children from a government school near Madras were made to crawl on their knees beneath the scorching sun for talking during class, The Hindu reported.

S.S. Rajagopalan, a relentless campaigner against corporal punishment in schools, told The Hindu, "In their enthusiasm to see that their children do well, parents sometimes force them to stretch beyond capacity. In this process, they do not even take cognisance of the fact that their children are beaten up at school."

Others say the state government's Education Department does not take students' complaints seriously. The southern state of Tamil Nadu, of which Madras is the capital, permits corporal punishment, the report said.

Parents of students in Abhinav's school have formed a committee to make an independent investigation into the incident and will draft a complaint to the state's Human Rights Commission, The Hindu reported.

Copyright 2003 Brunei Press Sdn Bhd. All right reserved.  

The Hindu, Chennai, 18 June 2003


Pondy: Probe ordered into beating of student

Pondicherry, June 18 (PTI): Pondicherry Education Minister K Lakshminarayanan, today said a probe had been ordered into the incident in which a fifth standard boy was allegedly caned severely by a teacher at a private school.

Lakshminarayanan, told reporters here that Joint Director of the Education Department Vijayalakshmi, would hold the enquiry and submit a report within a week.

He said on the basis of a complaint lodged by parents of the boy Satish Prabhu, the teacher who was involved had been arrested and the boy referred to the general hospital for medical examination.

The boy was allegedly beaten up because he was a slow writer.

He said there were a number of instances where parents of students of private schools in the Union Territory complaining of receiving "shabby and disrespectful" treatment at the hands of school authorities.

The Minister asked the parents to file their complaints whenever "mental and physical torture" was inflicted upon the students because schools had been instructed to avoid corporal punishment.

Copyright 2003, The Hindu.

The Hindu, Chennai, 19 June 2003

Southern States: Tamil Nadu-Chennai

'Discriminatory clauses remain'


By Ramya Kannan

Chennai June 18. A new set of revised Tamil Nadu Education Rules has been submitted to the Government. The good news is that corporal punishment is out. But the bad news is that some discriminatory clauses remain part of the revised rules, which will guide the educational policies of the State in the years to come.

While the Committee Chairperson A. Muthukrishnan, appointed to draft the revised rules says suggestions made by various bodies were incorporated in the draft recommendations, educationists say that more changes must be made before the rules are finally implemented.

Legal sanction for corporal punishment has finally been withdrawn. Rule 51 has been replaced with a section, which recommends every child be given an opportunity to learn error of his/her ways through 'corrective' measures. While making it clear that the school shall not cause mental and physical pain to the child, among the corrective measures suggested are 'imposition' and suspension from class.

However, the new set of draft rules calls for maintaining a cumulative record of every act of indiscipline by 'problem students'. "It is natural to make a mistake in the classroom. Teachers should not be encouraged to look at children as problem elements," according to child rights consultant, Girija Kumarababu.

There is no definition of 'torture' of the children. Consequently, no punitive measure suggested for violators. "No attempt has been made to outline the consequences of violating the Rule," says Ossie Fernandes of Tamil Nadu Child Rights Protection Network. He also calls for removal of the section on Disciplinary Proceedings - Rules 93 to 97.


Copyright 2000 - 2002 The Hindu

The Hindu, Chennai, 19 June 2003

Southern States: Tamil Nadu-Chennai

Abhinav parents urge ban on corporal punishment

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI JUNE 18. The parents of Ramu Abhinav, a student of the Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, who hanged himself on June 12, have appealed to the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to recommend a ban on corporal punishment in educational institutions.

In an e-mail to Dr. Kalam, who is scheduled to visit the city on Thursday, Sarangapani and Chandrika said their son, a talented Scout, was looking forward to receive the Best Scout Award from the President during the coming Independence Day celebrations.

They pointed out that he had received the Rajya Puraskar from the Tamil Nadu Governor on April 18 this year.

Pointing out that the certificate had stated that the 'award was a milestone in his joyous pursuit in the service of mankind', the parents stated that "it has become the last milestone he crossed" and added Abhinav was among the seven students selected by the school to receive the award personally from him. "He was looking forward so much to see you and was so excited about the greatest occasion of his life", they said.

Charging that children in all classes were beaten with canes, sticks, rulers and also with the shoes worn by the teachers, the parents said boys and girls were even made to kneel down if they exchanged even stationery. The autograph books of outgoing students were seized, they alleged.

Stating that Dr. Kalam was known as the ''Students' President", they hoped he would give suitable recommendations during his visit to Chennai to abolish corporal punitive acts.

Meanwhile, relatives of Abhinav expressed shock at the post-mortem report, which categorically stated that "no other external or internal injury is seen." Apart from detailing the general injuries, the report, the boy's relatives said, had mentioned that no other injury marks were seen.

"How is it that the post-mortem doctor missed the prominent injury mark on his right cheek and the bruises on his right arm," his relatives asked.

Usually, even old scars and moles are recorded, they said, and added it was unfortunate that the injury marks were not recorded in the report. Even reporters, who were present at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital on June 13 when the body was removed to an ambulance from the mortuary, noticed the marks of injury on his right cheek.

Copyright 2000 - 2002 The Hindu

News Today, Chennai, 20 June 2003

School blames it on family

NT Bureau

A week after the suicide committed by a 16-year-old student of Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, alleged to have been a fallout of corporal punishment, the school management today squarely blamed the boy's family members for the incident and said it was planning to file a damage suit against them.

Addressing media persons, some of whom adopted an aggressive posture, M V Muthuramalingam, chairman of the school, said the management was not ready to buy the theory that the student took the extreme step because the teacher had punished him for not attending a special class. 'Information available with us indicates that the boy had never written anything about the school in the suicide note but about one Ravi and also about his sister's marriage', claimed Muthuramalingam.

Claiming that the boy's maths teacher had been arrested only because of media pressure and based on a complaint filed by the family, he said that the true picture would emerge in another two to three days' time.

He also claimed that his school had earlier suspended teachers against whom parents had complained that they were resorting to corporal punishment., Chennai, 21 June 2003

Southern News - Tamil Nadu

Velammal Group threatens to sue Avhinav's parents

CHENNAI: The Velammal Group of Institutions has threatened to sue the parents of Ramu Abhinav, a Class X student of one of its schools, who committed suicide recently.

M V Muthuramalingam, chairman of Velammal Trust, on Friday told reporters that the boy had committed suicide due to personal reasons and the school had nothing to do with it.

But the boy's parents had damaged the image of the school blaming it for their son's death, he alleged.

"We will make them pay for the damages caused to us," he said.

"The suicide note of the boy mentions various other things apart from the passing reference made about the school and it is a clear indication that the boy had resorted to the extreme step due to personal reasons," he said.

Charging the media with not enquiring about the boy's behaviour, he said apart from the name of the boy's parents and his sister, the suicide note also had a mention of one "Ravi anna" in it. "It still remains a mystery as to who this Ravi is and why Ramu had mentioned his name in the suicide note," Muthuramalingam said.

He also claimed that the mathematics teacher Kannappan, who had been arrested by the Thirumangalam police, was "innocent."

The school never believed in corporal punishment and the mathematics teacher did not beat the boy at school as it was reported by the media, he said. "Even the post-mortem report did not have any mention about external injuries apart from the marks on the boy's neck (which were caused by the saree which Ramu used for hanging himself in the house)."

The 'cell class' is a term conceived by the students who are being given special coaching after school hours to perform well in their exams. Asked about the existence of a 'dark room' in the school, he said there was no such thing and added "even this room where we sit now will become dark if you switch off all the lights."

On what three students had told the media about the ill-treatment meted out to them at the school, he said the three students, who had been quoted in a section of the media, had already been dismissed from the school for various reasons. "They are only giving vent to their ire against the school."

"If 300 parents are talking against the school, there are over 9000 others who vouch for the high standards and service we render to the society," he said.

He also claimed that after the issue of Ramu Abhinav started appearing in the Press, the school had sold out over 6,500 application forms and the issue had in no way deterred the parents from admitting their children there.

News Today, Chennai, 21 June 2003

Terrorising students is part of a flawed education system

By G. Babu Jayakumar

Corporal punishment, which in plain terms, means 'infliction of physical pain as punishment', has become a subject of serious discussion, sadly, after a tragedy. But with debates failing to transcend beyond two issues - that teachers thrash students because the law provides for it and that the school in the thick of the latest controversy is a hellhole for its students - the exercise looks like much ado about nothing.

On its part, the management of the particular school, while seeking to deny the charge that the boy killed himself because of the humiliation he faced in school, ended up losing its credibility by suggesting that the school's teachers never pick up the stick.

For not only it is common knowledge that schools where children are not beaten up are a rarity today but also is a fact that almost all school authorities and teachers have an enduring faith in the prowess of the cane, which they wield not because there is a legal sanction but because of the misconception that sparing the rod is spoiling the child.

In the Indian social milieu, treatment meted out to children anywhere is far from desirable - be it homes, schools or any public place - and brutality, both physical and psychological, is never frowned upon.

So, the issue of corporal punishment in schools needs to be viewed in a broader perspective, if the collective aim of society is to prevent suicide by students in future.

First, without giving a clean chit to the teacher in the dock for being brutal, one should remember that he himself is possibly a product of the flawed education system, in which he have might have been caned, slapped and made to suffer pain for being an errant. That he had never imbibed the view that it is criminal to brutalise a child, during his long years as a student or as a teacher speaks volume of the education system itself.

Since he happens to be a post-graduate in education, one wonders if wannabe teachers are told during training that children should be dealt with tenderly and not violently and if the curriculum does provide for sensitising them and enjoining them not to unleash terror and violence among their charges, then every teacher who beats up students deserves to be hauled up on criminal charges.

But then we know that in the event of the long arm of the law catching up with every teacher who beats students, there would be no room in our jails and there would hardly be any teacher left in classrooms. That indeed is the real failure of our civil society - to prevent corporal punishment gain acceptability. And the blame should be shared by parents, teachers, school managements, educationists and policy-makers.

For, in the prevailing educational system, which lays stress on academic excellence, not making the grade in school is considered to be a shame. That teachers, parents and grown- ups fail to realise that every child cannot be an achiever or a topper in class, but believe that a child can be made to realise its full potential through force is the root-cause of the problem, which gets compounded by the looming fear that not coming up trumps in studies will spell doom for the child's future in the dog-eat-dog job market.

Possibilities of the pressure exerted on children to perform in school turning some rebellious and some others suicidal are things overlooked by most parents, who go about setting the agenda for children based on their personal dreams and aspirations.

With such overambitious parents hovering around schools, teachers, too, take it as a licence to push and prod students to perform, even if that tantamounts to harassing those who fail to make the grades, perhaps ignorant of the fact that all pupils cannot be achievers and that losers too should have a place in this earth.

Maybe they cannot have such a line of thinking when they work for private school managements, which blow their trumpets about achieving high percentage of results in board examinations and producing toppers to advertise themselves as purveyors of quality education.

So with school managements out to achieve exemplary results, the onus of making every student perform falls on the teachers, who take to task those whom they consider as bad eggs in the basket. So students who are not bright are sought be made bright through terror tactics, a method that parents, too, seldom object to even if it causes pain to a child.

This social acceptance to causing pain to children - be it with a view to sharpening their academic skills or disciplining them - gives a free hand to teachers to manhandle their charges and those landing the profession as the last resort to go a bit overboard, mostly to cover up their inadequacies and lack of commitment.

Besides with violence having a macho image, many teachers take pride in their penchant to strike terror among students and those of that ilk walk around in every school campus. Yet nobody cares to rein them in, neither do parents nor managements. For the collective belief is that inflicting pain can make a child do better in studies.

blob Follow-up: 2 July 2003 - People's Union demands action against Velammal School

NewIndPress, Chennai, 24 June 2003

Southern News - Tamil Nadu

Now, an engineering college where corporal punishment is daily business!

CHENNAI: Corporal punishment is not associated with school children alone, going by what the 100-odd students of G G R Engineering college in Vellore had to say, college students are not spared of it either.

The students say they are made to 'kneel down, caned and subjected to abusive language and girl students were being harassed' by their Chairman G G Ravi who had established the college at Vellore about two years ago.

The agitated students, who claimed to have sent several fax messages to the Anna University to take action against their Chairman, gathered in front of the Anna University campus here, creating a flutter in the area this morning.

The students told reporters that they were being victimised at college. ''We are being treated like prisoners and the college authorities have threatened us not to approach the university authorities,'' said a student.

"But unable to bear the treatment meted out to us we decided to come here in a group and make a representation to the Vice Chancellor hoping that he would intervene and transfer the 300-odd students to a different college," the student said.

Talking to the newspaper owned by our website this afternoon they said that their Chairman had even sent his 'henchmen' and intercepted them at the Vellore bus stand early on Tuesday in an attempt to prevent them from approaching the University authorities.

In a memorandum presented at the office of the Directorate of Technical Education, the students mentioned the treatment meted out to them at the college and the poor quality of education imparted to them.

"The college has only about 25 computers in all and the 300 odd students who have been enrolled in courses including Computer Engineering, Information Technology, Electronics and Communications, Mechanical and Bio Technolgy, get access to computers only once a month," said a student.

There are hardly any equipment necessary for imparting training in courses including electronics engineering and bio-technology, the students said. Despite facing difficulties during examinations without proper training, the college demanded extra fees for examinations, the students said.

Moreover, they said that some of the the faculty members in the college were not qualified enough to train them. They also said that one of the lecturers had not even completed his BE course.

The students said that they had got admission to the college through counselling and they were not aware of the poor quality of training and the "inhuman" treatment meted out to students in the institution.

"We do not want more students to get affected like us and we hope the university will save us," a student said. "We cannot return to that college as the Chairman might go to any lengths to get back at us for having exposed the issues in his college," said another student.

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Copyright Colin Farrell 2003
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