Why parents are afraid to speak out against teachers/school?

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The recent judgement of a court in the OPG World School case is likely to influence the way students are treated at schools. Also, it empowers parents who were, so far, scared to question the school authorities/teachers fearing the consequences of their actions on their wards.

A first of its kind it is! A Delhi court recently awarded a two-month jail term to the principal and director of OPG World School for causing mental trauma to a 7-year-old student by not allowing her to enter the classroom. Both have also been directed to pay a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh each to the affected child. Although the sentencing was suspended for four weeks so that the accused could appeal against the order, the verdict is likely to empower parents who have been scared to question the school authorities/teachers fearing the consequences of their actions on their wards.

“Many a times, as a parent, we want to question teachers and school vis-a-vis the quality of teaching. Despite paying huge amount of money as tuition fee, we have to arrange for private tuition for our wards as children are unable to grasp concepts well in class. But if we raise our voice, we are silenced by our own wards since they are then harassed by teachers. Often the harassment is mental in the form of taunts or scolding,” said Lipika Dutta, one such parent who had to choose between speaking out her mind or keeping quiet for her ward’s welfare. (Read her complete story here)

“Issues which are common among parents are easier to raise; one doesn’t feel alone in those cases. However, problem arises when it is only about your child, that’s when you feel hesitant,” said Deepak Arora, parent of a teenage daughter. He recalls one such experience when his interaction with the class teacher only aggravated the matter for his child. “My daughter was in class 3 and one day she refused to go to school. Upon enquiry, we found out that she is scared of her class teacher as the latter scolds her too frequently. Class teacher is like a mother to children in school. We spoke to the teacher and tried to explain her how the frequent reprimands are mentally affecting our child. At that time, she said she would look into the matter. But soon, she was back to her old self. And not just that, now she would also taunt my daughter by saying, ‘Later, your parents come and complain about it’.”

“Many a times, as a parent, we want to question teachers and school vis-a-vis the quality of teaching. But if we raise our voice, we are silenced by our own wards since they are then harassed by teachers. Often the harassment is mental in the form of taunts or scolding"

“If we question the teacher about poor marks of our students, rather than giving extra attention to them, teachers simply ignore them. This only makes things worse for our wards,” said Mohita, who has already arranged for tuitions for her primary school-going child.

The OPG World School judgement has given a new hope to several such parents, who feel schools would now be more sensitive towards the way students are treated there.

What is the OPG World school case?

An FIR was filed by the father alleging that his ward was ill treated in school on April 4, 2012. In his report, he claimed that the child was confined to other places in the school where there were neither any children present nor activity going on. This, he said, had been done to put pressure on them to withdraw their child from the school as he had questioned the management over an increase in school fees.

On their part, the school told court that even though the child’s parents had asked for a transfer certificate but instead of collecting it, they sent the girl to school. And since the child, who is an asthmatic, was not feeling comfortable, they sent her to infirmary for rest.

The court, however, refused this version of school and said that the child cannot be thrown out at the whim and fancies of the school authorities. Recognising that the school’s behaviour caused ‘unnecessary mental suffering’ to the child, the court said, as per the PTI report,  “… the trauma …is immense, once the child goes to school and is not allowed to sit in the classroom. Whatever may be the differences with the parents, the school authorities could not have allowed the child to be neglected.”

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