//Law to ban corporal punishment sought

Law to ban corporal punishment sought

"Regulatory body for private schools needed"

  • "Teachers have to battle with pressure to complete syllabus within stipulated time"
  • Speakers emphasis the need for teachers to act responsibly
  • Requirement for a teachers' voluntary code stressed

CHENNAI : "We need a regulatory body to check functioning of private schools," said V. Vasanthi Devi, chairperson of the Institute of Human Rights Education, here on Sunday. While there were thousands of private schools across the State, there was no common mechanism to look into how they worked, she said.

Addressing teachers at the district-level awareness programme, organised by People's Watch as part of the National Project on Prevention of Torture in India, she said a State Government law to prohibit corporal punishment was the need of the hour. A section of parents and teachers continued to believe that corporal punishment was good for the child, she noted, adding, "Several criminals today are children who were once subjected to corporal punishment or else other forms of abuse."

Pressure of syllabus

Empathising with teachers, Ms. Vasanthi said teachers were `low-level functionaries' in the education system. They had to battle with the pressure of having to complete the syllabus within a stipulated time. This pressure, in several cases, was responsible for teachers resorting to corporal punishment, she remarked.

Recalling an incident at a private school in Pallavaram, which was brought to the notice of the State Commission for Women during her tenure as chairperson, she said that a nine-year-old child, who was sexually abused by the physical education teacher of the school for one year, did not have the courage to inform school authorities or parents. "After an enquiry, we came to know that the teacher was appointed when he was just 18. Only an irresponsible school management can appoint someone so inexperienced and claim to be unaware of his behaviour," she said.

In a judgment passed by the Madras High Court recently, the teacher was convicted and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. "There are thousands of cases. Only a few get noticed. It is high time the society got sensitised to such issues," she said. B. Parthasarathy, State Director, National Project on Prevention of Torture in India, People's Watch, pointed out while teachers had several platforms to voice their concerns, school students had no platform to voice their own grievances.

Fr. Henry Jerome, national advisor, All India Catholic University Federation, said teachers and parents needed to change their outlook. Sessions of the programme were designed to address topics such as legal implications of corporal punishments, requirement for a teachers' voluntary code against corporal punishment as well as torture, a violation of human rights.