The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Moral lessons in class syllabi
- Short cut-to-success stories shake up schools

Shaken by recent cases of youngsters turning to crime in the hope of grabbing the limelight, schools are introducing moral science classes to wean them away from the primrose path.

In the recent past, two boys of a reputed south Calcutta school conspired with a local hoodlum to clean out their neighbour’s flat. A Class IX dropout of another well-known girls’ school stole the purse of a Russian diplomat. In both cases, the young people were desperate to turn celebrities overnight, and did not mind trying their hands at crime.

Even though their attempts were unsuccessful, they made educationists sit up and compelled them to admit the need for refocussing attention on morality and ethics.

The message being sent out by education department officers and the authorities of many Calcutta schools is that it is not enough to learn the three Rs. “The time has come to make school syllabi more value-based,” said C.R. Gasper, president of the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools and principal of St Augustine’s Day School.

The authorities of Anglo-Indian schools will launch special classes from the next session for students from Class IX to Class XII, where they will be given lectures on moral values. “And we will make it a point to ensure that what we teach the students in class is actually practised,” said Gasper. “For instance, if we tell the children not to smoke, the teacher must ensure that this is practised in reality.”

The authorities of other schools, too, admit that the time has come for more “soul-searching” and to find ways of making the straight and narrow path appear more attractive to young minds.

“Our institution has always laid a great deal of emphasis on imparting moral instruction,” said Mahadevi Birla Girls’ Higher Secondary School principal Rashi Narula. “But the gravity of the present scenario cannot be ignored,” she said, adding that there was a “real need” to lay even more emphasis on moral instruction.

Mahadevi Birla will also start an exercise to identify “problematic” students who want to try out “the short cut to success”.

Added Narula: “After this process of identification is over, we are going to appoint psychologists who will visit the girls regularly and condition them.”

Assistant teacher Dipali Mukherjee of Shri Shikshayatan says her colleagues and she are trying to promote value-based education.

“Given the changing world, for the first time we are going to introduce value-based education in our school,” she explained. “Now is the time for it.”

N.G. Khaitan, vice-president of South Point School, said besides the education imparted at school, it is important to find out how the student is being brought up at home.

“Given the kind of things that some students indulge in these days, it is of utmost importance to ensure that the upbringing at home, too, is proper,” Khaitan said. “This is why teachers of our school shall meet up with parents more often to discuss their children, in the light of current social issues and mores.”

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