The increasing incidence of crimes on campus is a wake-up call for parents, teachers and the management.
The murder of a principal of an engineering college allegedly by his students in Tamil Nadu was gruesome. Last year, Uma Maheswari, a high school teacher, was murdered in Chennai by her student. The manner in which these crimes have taken place is different. However, the motive seems to be same: ‘teaching a lesson to teachers for punishing them’.
Most countries have public policies on parental involvement in schools for their wards’ education and welfare. Recently in September, 2013, I was invited to address a global conference at Lisbon, Portugal, at the behest of European Research Network About Parents in Education (ERNAPE) where representatives from 32 countries discussed and debated ‘Family-school relationships/partnerships for social and educational inclusion, equity and justice through public policies’.
In India, we have hardly recognised the need of parental involvement in a constructive manner in educational institutions.
Nipping it in the bud
But our experiences reveal that proprietors of educational institutions, be it school or college, have not got their perspectives right. Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meetings merely do not address these issues.
We Indians seem to let things be, instead of addressing the issue right away. To take the view that prevention is better than cure is not encouraged. The attitude of the management of these educational institutions is far from what is needed. Schools work for marks and colleges for jobs.
Unless the Government, educationists and parents intervene, the entire generation will be misguided and lose the purpose of study and education. Education may evolve as a big business, but the nation will be robbed of meaningful human resources. Look at the paradox — more than 500 engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu could produce only 17-20 per cent engineers who are employable. Discipline is the most abused word in institutions. Enforced discipline will only have short-term effects. School and college authorities must find a way for ‘Inspired discipline’, which requires a well thought-out strategy and commitment.
There must be a defined grievance redressal system for students. Sacking students for carrying mobile phones, not following the dress code and coming in late to hostel will agitate students rather than help them.
It is disheartening to note that most educational institutions do not even recognise the need of a psychologist or trained counsellor to address issues concerning students and teachers.
As long as our processes are not healthy and well intended, the outcome will be poor. Few institutions have counsellors, but it is mainly to protect themselves from future embarrassment.
It makes sense to create a forum consisting of civil servants, psychologists, educators and educational philanthropists to discuss, deliberate and evolve a public policy intended to:
•Engage trained/certified counsellors and psychologists to help students and teachers. •Form a committee consisting of parents, teachers and management that will have a say in matters relating to student engagement in schools/colleges, discipline, equality, grievance handling, attendance and projects.
The writer is a behavioural scientist and director, BODHI. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org