The recent accident in T.V.Ramamurthy Girls’ Higher Secondary School in Besant Nagar in Chennai, India when two girls died due to wall collapse, raises the question as to whether the teachers and trustees running the institutions should be held responsible and be arrested straightaway by the police when such accidents occur. Fortunately, this has not happened so far in the case of the particular incident in Besant Nagar school.
In the past, in a women’s college in Chennai city when a student committed suicide in her house , a few lecturers were arrested for disciplining the student in the class. There have also been number of other similar occasions all over India , when teachers have been hauled up for unforeseen developments involving students. Some time back,headmaster of a school in Tamil Nadu was arrested, as the school bus taking students met with an accident on the road resulting in death of a student. Such immediate arrest of the teachers even before any in depth enquiry affect the morale of the teachers and create an anxiety in their mind as they go to the institution every day, apart from humiliating the teachers in the eyes of the society.
Most of the schools and colleges have more than one thousand five hundred students with different age group, family background , temperament, aptitude and mindset. Such students have to be “controlled” by the teachers which is increasingly becoming difficult , due to number of adverse influence on the students by external factors. Instances of students attending classes in a drunken state have also been reported in Tamil Nadu . We have seen students even murdering the teachers, which happened in Chennai and Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu recently. It is frequently reported that the politicians at local or higher level and pressure groups interfere in the functioning of the educational institutions often, disturbing the educational climate and creating scare amongst the administrators and teachers.
There is need to recognise that teachers work under extremely stressful conditions today. What the teachers need is understanding and support by the parents ,society and authorities and the police should not straightaway arrest the teachers for any unforeseen accident or incident in the premises of the institutions, since a detailed enquiry later on may reveal that the teachers are not responsible for such occurrence. Several such instances have been seen in the past.
It is sad that a weak wall collapsed in the TVR High School in Besant Nagar, when the innocent girl students were playing on a wire attached to the wall. While this is an extremely unfortunate accident and it should be enquired as to why this has happened and whether anyone was responsible, it is necessary to keep in mind that it is not a wilful act of those in charge of the educational institution and there would be no need to straightaway arrest the teachers and trustees and humiliate them in the case of such incidents in any educational institution.
It should be particularly noted that when a railway accident takes place killing innocent passengers, general manager or railway minister are not arrested . When such incidents take place in government owned institutions or offices, rarely we see senior officers including IAS officers or ministers of the concerned departments being arrested. Why different approach in the case of teachers in educational institutions.
With regard to responsibilities for maintaining safe conditions in educational institutions and factories, while the administrators of the concerned institutions are answerable , there are government inspectors and safety departments in the governments which are supposed to inspect the premises at frequent intervals and provide certificates. When the Mugalivakkam building collapsed killing several people in Chennai recently, nobody from the government at the level of IAS officers or chief engineers who are responsible for certifying the buildings, were arrested. Why treat the teachers differently ?
Teachers have a highly responsible role to play in moulding students in the formative age group and they have to be treated with care and dignity. When such unfortunate incidents take place ,teachers should not be viewed and treated like criminals. Dealing with such accidents in educational institutions can not be left to a policeman to handle.
Government should also issue orders directing all educational institutions to conduct safety audit atleast once in a year and initiate appropriate remedial actions. Educational institutions should also organise a safety week for the students and teachers atleast once in a year.
Nandini Voice For The Deprived
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