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School Discipline in India

December 12, 2010

I had the privilege to visit a public school in Udaipur. It was one of the better public schools in the area, but still the condition surprised me.

My first thought was, “Wow, there is no road. It’s just gravels, cement blocks, and soil together. So uneven. This gotta hurt for the kids to walk on.” After setting foot for 10 meters into the school yard, my second thought was, “Huh, the kids are playing with the cement blocks. Are they building a bridge?” There was a ditch in the middle of the yard and some boys were putting cement blocks on it, like they were trying to make a bridge. But I was later told that they were fixing the yard. Huh!

I walked farther in and was quickly greeted by the students. They approached me with big smiles and shouted hello. So friendly. My third thought was, “They touched my feet. What should I do?” I wonder if I should say something in return to bless them, or do something else. They were very eager to get to know me. We did not talk a lot however, because of my limited Hindi. But I was totally surprised of their curiosity and eagerness to greet me.

After a couple of weeks, I visited the school a second time; this time, with the plan to spend time observing the class and talking to the teachers. The same way as the first time, we were greeted in abundant joy. We spent about 40 minutes in the class, observing two classes. The first class was English class. I felt strange that the teacher just kept reading and explaining the passage. Sometimes he extended the topic of the passage a bit, talking about the environment and proper ecosystem. I wondered if the students had enough knowledge about all those. Many students were not attentive either. Hmm. The second class was Math, and it was worse. The teacher shouted all the way through the class. At first we thought she was excited teaching the class, but soon realized she was just yelling to make the students listened to her. Worse was the way she treated the students. She would call on students to answer her questions, and if a student gave a wrong answer, she would hit him/her. One time, the student wrote a wrong answer on the blackboard, quickly realized and corrected it, yet she still hit him. What a crap. I saw hard hitting too at times, which was terrible for me to imagine doing.

I learned that hitting children is a common and accepted method of discipline in India. Children are used to getting hit and have learned to move away (in reflex) when someone touches their head, face, or other parts of their body, even when one does not mean to hurt. Not only that, they learn to be disciplined only when the punishment is greater than hitting, which has to be worse. They do not listen easily when you simply tell them to, or shout at them. Many parents would even ask the teachers to hit their children so they would be disciplined. I hate the idea and think it is sick, but I have to accept that it is a deep-rooted culture in India. I hope the new generation of teachers and parents, especially those who are educated abroad, will promote positive changes in the long term.

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Students having their lunch at the hallway

Students having their lunch at the hallway

The students were given lunch at the school. It was pretty basic meal. They simply sat down lined up on the school hallway and ate there.

I went to a better school in Surabaya. I sat down on a nice wooden chair and desk. I wore clean uniforms and good shoes to the school. My teachers did not hit us like madmen. I was surprised of the condition at the public school in India, and this was one of the better schools in the area.

~ ~ ~

I also learned that public school teachers in India are regarded not just as teachers, but as civil servants. In addition to teaching responsibilities, they also have other tasks from the governments, such as running a census. One teacher noted that he was too busy at times, and thus was not able to dedicate as much time as he wanted in preparing for the class lessons and making it more effective.

I do not personally agree on the education system, except for the free tuition and meals, but I will not comment further as I am not aware of what the causes are that it is the way it is. I also do not know how private schools are run in India. They may have been running a better system due to better funding.

The students so loved to be in the picture. They were overexcited seeing a camera and kept asking to get a picture. As we were leaving, they sent us warmly away with smiles and hand waves. Take care, kids!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lalit Verma permalink
    March 23, 2013 3:59 am

    Yes Sir,
    This is what happens in India. Even though its illegal to hit students, nothing happens if a teacher does so.

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