SRINAGAR, Aug 9: Last week, at a leading school in Kashmir, a student twisted the teacher’s arms while his classmate slapped him on the face. They were angry at him for being ‘strict’.
Alarmed by this incident, teachers say that the time has come for the authorities to implement sterner laws to tackle insolence and rude behaviour by students in a region once considered to be the heartland of Sufi Islam – which emphasises sanctity of the teacher-student relationship.
“They don’t even have respect for us. It is becoming unbearable,” says Basharat Nehvi, a Class-12 teacher in Srinagar, who narrated how his colleague was beaten up by students outside the classroom.
A female teacher, who did not wish to be named, said, “One of my friends, who teaches Class 9 boys, was molested by students when she was walking in the corridor. Her worst fears came true in the conservative Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.”
The teacher-student relationship was hit hard in the valley two decades ago during the outbreak of insurgency, when many youths, then students, took up arms.
However, with violence waning and modernism setting in at a fast pace, the trend of disregard for teachers has intensified, say experts.
“Today’s youth are becoming more and more materialistic, self-centred and market-oriented,” says sociologist Abdul Gani Madhosh.
“When I talk to students, I find that they have their own values and culture. The worst thing is that they don’t care about the values of others, forget about respect for teachers,” he says.
With the percolation of media leading to exposure to sexual content, teachers, especially females, are finding it hard to cope with male students.
“In the class, they (boys) often write the ‘F’ word on paper chits and put it on the table. How can I complain, one feels ashamed talking about it to anyone,” says a newly-appointed lecturer, Zubeida Malik.
While many blame eroding religious values for the state of affairs, teachers point out lack of deterrence for the unbridled insolence in classrooms.
With laws banning physical reprimand or corporal punishment, it has become difficult to punish disrespectful students, say female teachers.
Bashir Ahmed Darzi, principal of Sri Pratap Higher Secondary School, says at least five students were discharged from the school after their behaviour was found deviant.
“We have also started obtaining written undertakings and affidavits from students that if they are found involved in any form of misbehaviour, they will be expelled,” says Darzi.
“But we are failing to curb it as this problem is growing by leaps and bounds. Then we will have to expel the whole lot,” he adds.
Teachers even hold parents responsible for the mess. “I once scolded a girl for wearing a skimpy uniform. The next morning, I hear that a complaint has been filed against me by her father with the director of the education department,” says a teacher of a top girls’ higher secondary school in Srinagar.
“The director sent his deputy to the school and asked for my records. Since then, I don’t care; let the girls get spoiled. Why should I care when their parents don’t?” she asks.
Teachers believe only sterner action or directions by the authorities can help stem the rot.
“Till then, students have laws to protect them and they get a free hand to abuse and disregard us in any way they like,” she adds.
(The author is a trainee, The Hindustan Times)