Curiosity kills the cat, as the old adage goes.
In this instance it was ‘over-enthusiasm’ to demonstrate the strength of ‘karate’ skills by the Headmaster of a middle school in a village in Tamil Nadu’s Villipuram district recently, that has now cost him the ‘Nallasiriyar Virdhu’ (Best Teacher Award) this year.
Waking up to a deplorable incident in the Government middle school at Keezhperumbakkam village just outside Villupuram town, 170 km South of Chennai, during the late veteran freedom fighter Kamaraj’s birth anniversary celebrations on July 15, of letting a karate expert ride a motorcycle over the children’s outstretched hands, the Authorities have initiated stringent action against such display of dare-devilry.
The Villupuram District Education Officer (DEO) in-charge of Elementary and Middle Schools, Mr. S. Sridhar, told HT over the phone today, following some media reports, that the Headmaster of that school, 56-year-old Mr. Ramanujam, with a “long record of sincere and dedicated service”, has been issued a charge memo with charges framed under ‘17(A) of the Classification, Control and Appeals Rules for Government Servants’.
Asked for an explanation for this uncalled for ‘bravery show’, as part of the Kamaraj birth anniversary celebrations in the school, which put the school children to harm and placed them in grave peril, the DEO said that the Headmaster had replied that it had been organized “only to showcase martial arts skills and not with an intent to harm any children.” The school has also been teaching ‘karate’ to young boys and girls.
As part of the celebrations that day, the ‘bravery show’ that also included a bike going over a plank placed on a girl, came as a finale. But, when we “saw the pictures first in a local Tamil Daily recently, we were shocked and initiated action,” said the DEO. The Parent-Teachers Association was also involved in organizing these celebrations.
However, in the same breath, the Headmaster’s “exemplary record” so far – he has two more years to go in service- could also not be ignored as he had been doing ‘commendable service’ in imparting education to mostly poor children in that village, the official explained. There was also “no complaints from any of the parents of the children of any injury till now since the show”, Mr Sridhar said, adding, the matter had been left at that after a severe warning to the Headmaster against holding such events in future.
“In the normal course, Mr. Ramanujam’s name was to be recommended from Villupuram District for the State “Best Teacher” Awards given during the birthday of late President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan on Sept 5, this year,” said Mr. Sridhar. But after this incident, “we have dropped his (Ramanujam’s) name from the list,” the DEO said.
Given the Headmaster’s past track-record of “consistently working for the school’s improvement” and in the students’ interest, “we thought just for this one incident the Headmaster should not be penalized further,” the DEO said, adding, he had also sent a report to the School Higher Education Authorities on this very unfortunate episode.