A school is a place for inspiration, a place that inspires hopes and dreams, but a string of crimes committed in institutions across India have shaken the faith both students and parents have in them. Against this backdrop, The Ardee School, New Friends Colony, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on the theme #freefromfear on the occasion of Children’s Day on November 14.
While the incidents of crimes, including those such as the recent death of a Gurgaon school student, have made parents anxious, and a resultant increase in surveillance in schools has left students feeling suffocated.
Speaking as part of an eminent panel of educationists, lawyers and media practitioners that pondered on the topic of #freefromfear, Shefali Varma, chairperson of The Ardee Schools, and founding member of MyRightToBreathe campaign, said,”As a society, we need to move beyond the Ryan International School incident and work on how we can create a balanced environment of safety and freedom for our children.”
There is an urgent need to build and retain trust between parents, children and schools in order to solve the pressing issue of fear that is plaguing the primary and senior education system in the country, according to the panel of experts that included Amita Mishra, principal, DPS International, Saket; Aditi Chopra, director and legal counsel, Microsoft India; Captain Gurmeet Kaur, Head, Administration & Operations, Shiv Nadar School; Ravina Raj Kohli, media guru & founding member of MyRightToBreathe (#MRTB); Dr Roma Kumar, clinical psychologist; Madhavi Goradia Divan, lawyer, Supreme Court of India; Chanda Raisinghani, president & trustee , The Ardee Schools, Jyothi Thyagrajan, Director Development – The Ardee Schools and Parul Sharma, media specialist, photographer and founding member of #MRTB.
Rahul Kanwal, managing editor at India Today, moderated the session that identified various problems at the school level and delved into the reasons why schools are being transformed into fortresses taking away the freedom of pupils.
The panel also highlighted the need for involving parents in forming guidelines for safety and security in schools such that students do not become anxious and fearful of the surveillance and their freedom is curtailed.
“The Ryan incident triggered fear in everyone’s minds. It has led to the drivers, conductors and others who help bring up our children feel insulted and created a divide between the functionaries,” said Amita Mishra, principal, DPS International, Saket.
A discussion on being free from fear can never be complete without hearing the students out.
Tanuj Jain, a class 12 student of DPS International and Samridhi Negi from The Ardee School weighed in with their opinion.
“Though as a student I feel that security measures such as RFID are necessary they also interfere with the lives of students. But because of such measures students are feeling alienated and do not know who to trust,” said Tanuj.
“I feel like an insect under a microscope,” said Samridhi.
“The best possible solution would be to remain empathetic to the needs of the children and their needs. However, parents, on the other hand need to have trust in schools, their administration and the teachers, who are working tirelessly to build the child’s personality and character. There is a need for regular dialogue between the parents and the schools,” said Chanda Raisinghani, famous educationist, Trustee and President Education and Training, The Ardee School.
Others on the panel corroborated Raisinghani’s view. Problems and solutions have to be shared with the parents and teachers. And solutions are available within the system itself. For example, parents’ representatives are already consulted while taking each prominent decision of the administration that directly affects the students.
Among other solutions, experts said that there is a need to constantly evolve a mechanism within our schools, where students, teachers, and parents can be counselled by trained professionals to build moral values and fight against the social evils without fear. “This, in particular, would instill a sense of freedom and help students explore the new possibilities in life and be more creative in their studies and day-to- day activities,” said Dr. Kumar.
Experts also felt that different mediums of communication including the social media and the press can play a crucial role in eliminating the fear from within the society. “Media from time to time has played a key role in highlighting the problems of the society and promote freedom of expression and thoughts. Media along with various social media channels can play a crucial role in bringing the change,” said Kohli.Posted in Campus