PATNA, India: The state government is contemplating bringing in a rule to abolish major punishment in Bihar's government schools.
This rule would not only protect children across all grades from corporal punishment, but also bring the errant teachers to book.
It is not yet clear as to how this rule would be implemented and what would be the checks and balances accompanying it.
Also, this is expected to throw open a debate among teachers and parents, many of whom feel occasional spanking does more good than harm.
Bihar has about 1.5 crore students studying in primary, middle and high schools run by the government across 38 districts.
A senior official in the human resource development department told TOI on Friday, "We are in the process of revamping the educational system in Bihar. We want to bring it at par with the best systems in the world. Abolishing major punishment in school is just another move in this direction."
In the West, physical punishment is unthinkable in schools. And students are free to sue schools if their teachers behave badly.
In fact, schools usually have well-defined tactics that teachers can adopt to discipline students.
The official said, "We have been getting feedback from students, parents and teachers that sometimes punishments cross limits and lead to severe repercussions in the community. Many students drop out of school and many others develop a dislike for studies."
It is learnt that the government will soon officially define "major punishment". "Severe physical punishment such as caning is definitely a major punishment.
But we also plan to bring public humiliation of a student by a teacher under this ambit," an official in the education department said.
However, government school teachers said the idiom spare the rod and spoil the child may still have some truth in it.
Shailendra Kumar Sharma, a science teacher in Gramin Uccha Vidyalay, Chakberia, said, "In secondary schools, we never beat children severely. But we sometimes use a thin cane to straighten out a few delinquent ones."
Sharma, who teaches science to Class VIII, IX and 10 students, said, "Parents request us to punish their children occasionally if they do not study hard.
In fact, we feel only a teacher dedicated to the cause of students would take pains to teach and also punish children who do not study."
He said, "Male teachers never punish girls. At best, a girl is asked to leave the class or is scolded for not doing her homework. With boys we have to be stricter."
Reacting to the government plans to abolish punishment, Sharma said, "We believe occasional punishment is for the betterment of students. If this stops altogether, school discipline will be adversely affected."