At Government Boys Senior Secondary School in Nangloi in northwest Delhi it was business as usual on Monday. Around 5 pm students had finished writing their mid-term exam. Hindi teacher Mukesh Kumar was arranging the answer sheets . Suddenly, two students barged into the room and stabbed him. Kumar passed away later that night.
His fault - he hadn’t taken their threats seriously. None of the teachers had. One of the boys had been rusticated for indiscipline and the director of education later said it looked like they were seeking revenge. Shocking as it may be, teachers in Delhi government schools say their profession is no longer safe.
Early last year, a class IX boy thrashed his principal on the school premises in Tughlakabad. He broke the computers, smashed a television and vandalised the furniture besides leaving the principal bleeding behind the ear. The student had been rusticated in November 2014 for indiscipline but his terror loomed large in school.
In August 2014, a senior teacher in Madanpur Khadar scolded a student while trying to manage two sections of class XI in one room. There were 159 students to be accommodated in a classroom for 40. The teacher was later beaten up allegedly by the student and his parents following which he was admitted in an ICU for more than a week.
In 2011, a class VIII student in Rohini pulled a 58-year-old teacher by her hair, kicked her and slit her chin with a sharp object after she asked him to submit his notes during an exam and stop talking loudly. Other teachers had to try hard before he let her go.
Teachers in many government schools arrive in classrooms every day with fingers crossed and mouth shut. Any attempt to dominate can invite trouble, they feel. There have been several incidents in Delhi government schools over last few years where teachers were assaulted by their own students over issues as trivial as making a noise in the corridor.
According to Government School Teachers’ Association, there have been at least six cases of assault on teachers inside schools since August 2014. “It may be difficult to believe but students have lost all respect for teachers. It’s because of the bad company they keep and the policies of the government like no detention that has made students so irreverent and audacious,” said Ajay Veer Singh, general secretary, GSTA.
While the association has been discussing the issue with the Directorate of Education demanding better security and limited access of parents in the school, teachers say such attacks leave them more humiliated and heartbroken than injured. “A student slapped his teacher in front of the principal. Another teacher, who was bashed up by his student and his parents was in so much distress. He doesn’t like talking about it now and avoids meeting people,” a fellow teacher said. Another teacher, who did not wish to be named, added that teaching in such a situation was more challenging for the guest teachers. “They just leave and do not come back. They may be just a few reported cases. But students threaten us almost every day,” said MH Chauhan, a TGT in a Sriniwaspuri school.
“Once a teacher told a student he would inform his parents about his incomplete homework, the student deflated his car’s tyres. The other day, a teacher’s driver was beaten up by the senior school boys. And we thought, teaching was a respected profession,” he further said.
Teachers say students are well aware their schooling won’t be affected as no student can be detained till class VIII thanks to No Detention Policy. Even after that, a school cannot expel a student without approval from the department or the School Management Committee. A police action is out of question as most students are juveniles.
Directorate of Education had asked every school to create an Emergency Response Team for protection of students which will act in case of assaults too. Many schools also provide counselling to students. “But that doesn’t help. In fact, women counsellors often have to keep away,” added Chauhan.
(This is an updated version of the story published on March 9, 2015)