REFLECTIVE of the communal and social biases prevalent in Uttar Pradesh is a string of unfortunate incidents reported in schools in the recent past. These acts are particularly egregious for they involve young, sensitive children who are like sponge, soaking in everything they see and endure, and these imprints get etched on their minds for life.
The latest shocking case pertains to a 14-year-old girl dying by suicide as she could not bear alleged harassment by two of her teachers. For daring to question her teacher over a receipt for the school fee that she had paid, the girl was repeatedly taunted as being poor and of a lower caste. Ideally, the teachers should be supportive of students belonging to the lower stratum and aspiring to rise in life. Making matters worse for his widowed mother, who was paying for her daughter’s studies with great difficulty, was another hurdle that is shamefully visible in our society: the underprivileged sections have to run from pillar to post to get justice. In this case, the police filed an FIR against the accused teachers only after she had met a higher official. In another shocking case a week earlier, a teacher had humiliated and traumatised a seven-year-old Muslim boy by asking his classmates to slap him for not learning maths tables; she even passed comments on his religion. In November last year, a teacher of another UP school callously used a drilling machine on a Class V boy’s hand over his failure to recite the table of two. But for the presence of mind of another boy who pulled the plug of the machine, the teacher’s cruelty might have left the child impaired.
These are grave transgressions. But usually, teachers committing them remain remorseless, dismissing the acts as ‘minor issues’. Teachers’ sensitisation should be an integral part of their training so that they learn to treat the children as their own.
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