Reflections

Let the punishment fit the crime

Eleven-year-old Shanno of the Delhi Municipal Corporation primary school in Bawana couldn’t recite the English alphabet properly. As punishment, Shanno’s teacher made her stand in a crouched position in the hot sun for over two hours, and according to some reports, even placed bricks on her back.

Shanno slipped into a coma later that afternoon and died at a government hospital Friday.

I’m not going to generalize and say corporal punishment is being executed at most schools in India, because for the most part, steps have been taken to rid the educational system of it, and it’s very possible this teacher was on a vicious power trip. However, I will say that this is an example of the extreme pressure placed on students even at the early stages of their schooling.

In fact, it makes me wonder, if Shanno had actually lived, she probably would have continued her education thinking the sun-scorching was a fitting punishment for her incompetence…. Who’s to say how Shanno may have punished herself had she progressed to the X and XII standards and not performed well on her board exams?

If a primary school student is tortured with such punishments for not properly reciting something as simple as the alphabet, who’s to say the same child will not resort to suicide when he or she does not perform well in senior-level studies?

I had mentioned in an earlier post that in my first month of being in India, I had read countless news reports of school students committing suicide due to poor performance on exams or just general pressure of school work. I had initially thought that it was the student’s own misconstrued priorities that led them to such drastic measures, but this heinous incident has made me understand the pressure students face from school administrators themselves. But perhaps teachers should consider the possibility that they are at fault as well. If students don’t perform well, maybe it’s indicative of the teacher’s poor instruction. Perhaps Shanno’s teacher stood have crouched under the blistering heat herself.

My prayers go out to Shanno’s family. May her soul rest in peace and may her family find the strength to cope with this loss. I completely agree with Shanno’s father that her teacher should be brought to justice, and I only hope the judicial system can find a fitting punishment. Although
I have matured from my “eye-for-an-eye” inclinations since high school, I think in this case Shanno’s teacher must definitely be doled out some severe punishment for her actions. After all, of all people, Shanno’s teacher knows best that the punishment should always fit the crime.

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