There is a private secondary school right next to our house. It is not a big or popular school. The building it has and the infrastructure around the school suggest the school is not doing very well financially.
At around 9:45 in the morning, the students and teachers gather on the little playground inside the premises. They sing Nepali national anthem and a particular teacher usually gives some sort of morning preaching (over a microphone) about the need for students to be punctual in the school, about wearing their school dresses clean and stuffs like that. Sometimes they have students reading poem (in English) or make a speech about national hero from the history (in English).
Today, I just wanted to listen keenly what exactly he (the teacher) talks about in front of the assembly of the students. So I peeked out from my window and started looking at the assembly. I am shocked and a little bit amused by what I heard.
(In his awful speaking English) “Many students are not very regular in the school. Parents are also careless now. We have to give punishment to both students and parents. So from today, any student who is absent for more than three days without any application must pay 50Rs to enter the school. The student will not be allowed through the gate if 50Rs is not paid.”
Can they really make students pay like that? This seems to be a nice and profitable replacement for physical beatings.
And this completely shocks me.
He keeps on speaking over the mic. “We have heard students talking in Nepali during school hours. This must stop. Class Monitors, collect 5 Rs every time when you hear someone talk in Nepali instead in English. This is also a punishment to students who do not obey.”
Can the students choose to speak in any language in the school – it can be a debatable issue but must it be punished by making the students pay money?
In my school days, especially in the primary classes, I (along with most of the students) have suffered physical beatings at the hands of the teachers for even a small prank or mistakes.
There was a teacher who used to teach us Trigonometry. What a useless subject that was! Anyways, one little mistake on the formulae of Sin Cosine and Cosec, he used to swing a pipe on our palms. There were so many burns and blue red cords. Female teachers and their slaps on our face were more humiliating and nastier.
There was one particular math-teacher who used to sell copies and pencils to each and every student. It was sort of an unwritten rule. If one does not buy his copies/pencils – the student was surely going to fail in Math.
These days, I really do not know if they still beat students but making them “pay money” seems to be a new definition of punishment. 50 Rs for being absent, 5 Rs for speaking in Nepali. There could be more too.
If a student fails to submit homework, charge him/her 20 RS.
If the dress in not “clean” by standards, charge him/her 10 RS.
If one confuses with which pair of socks to wear, charge him/her 10 RS.
If a student does not address “Good Morning Sir” or “Good Morning Madam” and does “Namaste Sir”, charge the student 100 RS.
The school administration must have figured out that beating students won’t do any good, they are priceless costumers. So why not, make them pay more, instead. No wonder, schools and colleges in Nepal have turned into a business institution – and an ever-lucrative business too.
Possibly, this is only a minor fragment of the whole reason why our education system, like some education experts claim, has completely failed.
I took those pictures some months ago. The two students, of the same school, are seen standing on one leg, with their hands grabbing their ears as some sort of punishment. It must have been painfully humiliating and demeaning for those two, to stand there in the middle of the playground with everyone from every class watching them and jeering them.