Apropos the recent reports in the prominent dailies of incidents of violence in students, it is time to acknowledge that we do have a serious problem on our hands! Two prominent incidents that come to mind are, the attack on a teacher perpetrated by a class eighth student, because she wouldn’t allow him to cheat, and the second one in which a class mate was stabbed outside the examination centre because he wouldn’t show his answer sheet to his class mates during an important exam. In another incident which took place last year, some girl students were molested by male students in an overcrowded trans-Yamuna school. These stories grabbed media attention, but soon fizzled out because these stories didn’t portray the teacher as the scapegoat!
So,then what is the cause of violence in students of schools of Delhi? The reasons are varied and multiple. First and foremost is the overcrowding of class rooms, and lack of proper infrastructure! Imagine three students sitting on a bench meant for two! No wonder, in such a crowded environment, tempers are going to be frayed, not only of the students, but also the teachers who incidentally are an already harried lot! Another very important reason for lack of fear for rules in students is the excess liberty given to them by the radical reform in Education. The removal of Board Exams in the Traditional sense has removed the fear of failure in the students. Also, students are not afraid of being retained in middle classes till class ninth so they spend less time in studies and more in other activities! The hounding of Educationist and teachers as the black sheep of the Educational system has had a negative impact on the psyche of the students. Today they are devoid of any kind of fear or respect for their teachers (that is why a class eighth student had no hesitation in stabbing a teacher recently)! All these factors have reinforced the wrong kind of behaviour in students! It is unfortunate that the radical reforms in education don’t take into consideration discipline in schools, overcrowding in schools, security of girls students, and redressal of grievances by independent authorities. Perhaps today it has become imperative to appoint counsellors in every school. Unfortunately, I have noticed also that introduction of co-education has teething problems. In schools which have recently introduced co-education there should be a concerted effort to have an almost equal number of boys and girls as students. In schools where there is a skewed ratio between girls and boys, there is bound to be trouble! That is to say, if there are fewer girls than boys, then boys are bound to fight for the attention of the girls, and this creates numerous discipline problems!
The concept of neighbourhood schools is a very good concept! Students who travel long distances to schools are bound to get distracted, moreover they are already exhausted by the time they reach schools. They have to attend coaching for entrance exams, or the twelfth boards. The result is again, frayed tempers, tempers on short fuses, irritation, and a susceptibility to pick up fights on the slightest excuse. The media, too should adopt a more rational and mature approach towards reporting of issues associated with education. Journalists should not sensationalise news related to schools, jump the bandwagon and report a juicy tid-bit which might have long term implications! Remember an incident where a female school teacher was hounded by the media for being allegedly a master-mind of a sex racket, which later on turned out to be a false campaign aimed at maligning her(that teacher was suspended by the Department of Education, beaten up by parents, only to be proclaimed innocent). Such irresponsible reporting causes more damage than good, and students are affected by irresponsible reporting by the media which is bent on portraying the teacher as the black-sheep of today’s Educational System!
As far as the System of Education in Delhi is concerned, it is clear that excess liberalisation and a surfeit of reforms without proper homework has already caused serious damage. The introduction of C.C.E. or C.C.A. has left parents and students of Government and Government Aided schools confused and bewildered! Without a proper guideline or framework students do not know how to prepare for their Formative Assessments, four in all! Ironically, the new reforms claim to attempt to reduce stress in students, but, the opposite happens to be the truth. Continuous means that there will be continuous assessment, which mean greater stress, and greater stress ultimately leads to irritation, frayed tempers, and ultimately indiscipline in schools. We don’t want a Columbine High School incident in Delhi, so, it is high time that the powers that be do a serious study on how to improve discipline in schools of Delhi!