The recent announcement by School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi that students would be dismissed from school if they misbehaved with teachers has not gone down well with child rights activists and even some teachers. They say the situation can be handled better via counselling.
The activists termed the move unfair and against the juvenile justice system and alleged that the minister announced such a strict action against unruly children without taking any measure to help them overcome that behavior. Such an action, they said, will ruin the children’s future.
“The juvenile justice system focuses on reforming children, not punishing them. It is critical to understand that these students mainly belong to government schools and once dismissed, they won’t return to school ever. They will either become child laborers or get into criminals activities,” said A Devanayan, a child rights activist.
Minister also said the transfer certificate and conduct certificate of such children will have to mention the reason for their expulsion. “This will simply ensure that the student doesn’t get admission to any other school,” said Andrew Sesuraj, state convenor of TN Child Rights Watch.
Sesuraj added that before taking any such action, the school education department should analyze the factors responsible for such behavior among students. “During the pandemic, private school students had some interaction with their teachers through online classes but government school students remained completely aloof from their teachers. Meanwhile, many students entered the teenage phase and they are going through so many emotions and they don’t know how to channel their feelings as no guidance is being provided to them, ” He said.
Sesuraj further added that before reopening schools the department had announced that it would offer counseling sessions and moral education in schools before engaging students with regular classes, but nothing was done.
Even psychologists have expressed concern about the development. “I believe a majority of unruly students can be reformed and disciplined through counselling. Pandemic has been tough for all of us but especially so for these teenagers who had no contact with their peers and teachers and had no alternative way to vent their emotions in past two years,” said city-based psychologist, K Ravichandran.
Even teachers feel that the punishment will be too much for the children. “They are teenagers and any wrong move can ruin their career. Counselors should be engaged to deal with such students,” said M Periasamy, a school teacher.