One of the most traumatic experiences of a child going to school is being bullied. Most students chose to remain quiet when being bullied either by a classmate or a senior student at school.
To discourage this practice, the Delhi government’s education department has begun a Bal Bhagidari system in government schools across the Capital. It is also aimed at tackling issues of indiscipline and discouraging corporal punishment. The system is a new life skills programme focusing on stress management for teachers, principals and students.
Education Secretary Rina Ray said, “Bal Bhagidari is a system wherein four senior students will be part of an adult body called Vidyalaya Kalyan Samiti (comprising principals, teachers, parents and NGOs). They will be present during meetings, discussions and will also have voting rights.”
“The students have already been identified and by August we hope to activate the system in the areas of discipline and student management.”
Bal Bhagidaris would work in three areas, primarily containing bullying in schools. “Bullying is a major problem and although teachers are in a position to stop bullying, they lack information. We hope Bal Bhagidaris can discreetly convey this information to teachers,” she added.
They would also watch out for teachers who indulge in corporal punishment. “Students usually know that a certain teacher will use physical force because indulging in corporal punishment is indicative of a personality type. They can then inform the higher authorities,” Ray said.
The move is significant as it comes after a series of incidents of corporal punishment in government schools. On July 26 this year, 13-year-old Hans Nagar, a Class VIII student of Rajkiya Sarvodaya Seha Shiksha Vidyalaya in Mukherjee Nagar, collapsed after the school principal beat him. Police later arrested the principal.
Besides, the life skills programme for stress management aims at decreasing the number of corporal punishments. Teachers would be taught yoga, meditation and counselling. “Corporal punishment is a manifestation of psychological, mental and emotional health of the teacher concerned,” said Abdul Mabbod, Director of SNEHI, an NGO that works for psychosocial health of children and adolescents. “Stress management will definitely help teachers deal better with their emotions and day-to-day problems,” Mabood said.
The Bal Bhagidaris would also talk to students and sensitise them about their rights. “Training would include meeting Bal Bhagidaris from different schools so that student leaders can exchange notes on what works for them," said Ray.