The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Suicide shake-up for teacher-student ties
Tiyasa Biswas

Calcutta, April 7: A day after Tiyasa Biswas committed suicide in her classroom at St Joseph's Convent, Chandernagore, teachers of Anglo-Indian schools here drew up measures to improve student-teacher relations and devised ways to deal with adolescents.

The Class IX student hanged herself from a ceiling fan while her friends assembled for morning prayers. Her parents alleged that she was depressed for being 'psychologically tortured' by her class teacher for the past two years.

'We're examining the charges. But why should we get such a complaint against a teacher' asked Dilip Bhattacharya, a La Martiniere School for Boys teacher and general secretary of the Association of Teachers of Anglo-Indian Schools.

The association's executive committee, which meets on April 24, will discuss the issue.

Several teachers and principals said Tiyasa's depression was all the more shocking because she was a hard-working student who scored high.

'Students like Tiyasa need appreciation from their parents and, most importantly, from teachers,' said C.R. Gasper, the principal of St Augustine's Day School.

'Regular seminars, workshops and counselling should be organised by the schools to educate both teachers and parents in the changing problems of students. We need to be updated first to guide our adolescent children,' said Gasper.

The association and various schools have decided to organise counselling for teachers to help them develop better relationship with children, particularly between classes IX and XII. 'In our sessions, we will hold extensive discussions with teachers on adolescent problems and motivate them to maintain friendly relations as much as possible,' said Ismail Nehal, the president of the association and a St James' School teacher.

'Students are our main concern. Schools are meant for them. Why should they feel scared to discuss their problems with teachers' Nehal asked.

'At the same time, the teachers will also urge the authorities to distribute burden so that they can pay more attention to individual students and discuss with them problems beyond studies,' he said.

Parents will be asked to join the counselling and monitor children's behaviour.

The association will urge the schools to run checks on classrooms before assembly.

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