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Teachers, spare rod & listen more

Krishnagar, Sept. 17: Schoolteachers in Nadia have been warned against corporal punishment and asked to take students’ complaints about illness seriously.

The circular from the dis- trict administration to the schools comes in the wake of a survey of schoolchildren’s health, which revealed that many of them had latent diseases that could turn serious if the students were subjected to physical punishment.

Nadia, which has about 11 lakh students in 2,600 primary and some 400 high schools, has witnessed several incidents recently in which teachers beat up students without realising that they were sick.

“A sudden slap or any other mode of thrashing a student might lead to a mishap,” district magistrate Rajesh Pandey said.

The notice, in a way, is to tell teachers that even a slap might lead to murder and it is better to shun all such methods of punishment.

In July, a Class X student of Panshila Girls’ School at Maheshgunj was not allowed to go home after she complained of a splitting headache. Teachers thought it was another excuse to bunk classes. But Rupa Debnath, 16, fell unconscious shortly before the school got over and was declared dead in hospital. She had brain tumour, which the school did not know.

At Kalinagar Girls’ School last month, Class VIII student Basana Bhadra fell unconscious in her classroom after be- ing hit on the head several times by her mathematics teacher, who pulled her up for being inattentive.

Mandira Majumdar, a Class V student of Queen’s Girls’ School in Krishnagar, had to be hospitalised after a teacher wrung her ears for running to class. She had an ear infection.

“All the teachers told us that they did not mean to harm the children. We feel that teachers should not only restrain themselves while punishing a student but know about the health of every student,” said district inspector of schools Subhendu Ghosh.

The administration had ordered the survey on students’ health in primary schools last year as part of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. About 4,000 students in 230 schools have already been covered in the study conducted by the district health department.

The initial findings were submitted to the district authorities last month.

Over 30 per cent of the students were undernourished and around 70 per cent had vision problems. About 340 students had serious ENT problems, about 2,000 were suffering from dental problems and 1,200 of them had unattended skin diseases.

Chief medical officer M.K. Biswas said about 500 children were suffering from pulmonary and heart diseases, which even their parents were not aware of. “We have referred 330 students to hospital. There were students with liver and pancreas problems. We have asked the schools to admit them to hospital,” he said.

Alarmed by the findings, Pandey said the study would be extended to high schools in the district.

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