Punishing students hurts democratic spirit
Chukka-Ramaiah: Punishing Students Hurts Democratic Spirit, The greatest contribution of Dr B R Ambedkar to this country is a peaceful revolution through democracy.
The greatest contribution of Dr B R Ambedkar to this country is a peaceful revolution through democracy. Democracy yields fruits of welfare if the educational institutions perform their social duty of transformation as envisaged in the Constitution. The role of educational institutions, particularly higher educational institutions like universities, is very crucial in institutionalising the democratic values and instilling them in the society. The universities are said to have the capability to bring about behavioural changes to construct good human beings by being sensitive to the students’ socio-economic background. This is possible only with an education which imbibes human values in students.
However, in the age of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation, universities are seldom functioning with social agenda. They are more associated with a military agenda of rule of stick. The role of democratic debate and discussion has changed drastically over the years. As a result, the relationship between the student and the teacher started cracking up.
The rule of stick seems to be dominating in central universities. It became evident in the case of recent rustication of three students in the case of an alleged breaking of glass door in EFL University. The unilateral decision of rustication of students also raises many issues related to the credibility and criteria of appointment of Vice-Chancellors for these higher institutions and their administrative capabilities.
The decision of rustication and the enquiry that preceded seems as though the alleged breaking of glass is an isolated incident which has no precedents. History of the entire issue started with closing down of the 24-hours-functioning reading room initially and the library altogether eventually.
When the students under the banner of elected Student Council started agitating demanding the reopening of the reading room, even the library was closed. If the reading room and library in a premier educational institution are closed, then where should the students go to study is the simple question that needs an answer. Students fighting for their right to education and administration denying it stand as the example of how the ham-handed administration functions in universities. Taking such a decision without consulting students speaks volumes about the nature of administration that is prevailing in the university. This incident exposed the administration that believes only in punishing students and does not believe in a constitutional framework of a democratic enquiry.
On the whole this incident stands as an example of the deteriorating administrative capabilities and democratic spirit in educational institutions. At large what worries me most is the deteriorating relationship between the students and teachers. The relationship that has to be centered on knowledge construction seems to be moving haywire. In this particular case, the Vice Chancellor, who is also a teacher, seems to be indulging in revengeful tactics than in a constructive constitutional framework.
As the influence of a teacher and a Vice Chancellor is immense on the life of a student in shaping his social being with human values, this incident, and the response of the VC, would lead the student community to lose faith in the entire functioning of democracy itself.
There have been a number of examples of inspiring Vice-Chancellors and teachers who had motivated the students to become great scientists and social and political leaders. But the latest incident on the EFLU campus would have a negative influence on the life of the students. This points out at the care to be taken in the appointment of Vice-Chancellors to crisis in the educational institutions. Otherwise, the constitutional spirit of democracy would be violated and the role of punishment would dominate. This hampers the basic democratic functioning of our country.
Not only the environment inside the classroom influences the students but also the atmosphere outside the four walls. Hence it is the responsibility of the administration to create an amicable atmosphere of caring and freedom for the students to learn. Based on the attitude of the administration, the students develop their own behavior. If the administration respects students’ opinions, requests the students to cooperate, the students in turn will help in a smooth functioning of the university. If the administration resorts to coercive measures then the young blood obviously retaliates. This is what exactly happened in EFL University.
It needs to be remembered that with punishments quality of education would cease to grow and the reputation of the institution damaged. The rustication would prove counterproductive for the future of students as well as the university at large. This can be healed with a healthy and democratic relationship between students and teachers. Construction of the relationship between the students and the administration is the only way and withdrawal of rustication is an important precondition. The larger solution for this problem would be to appoint VC’s based on their social values rather than mere academic qualifications.