In his address to teacher awardees on the eve of Teachers Day in New Delhi on 4th September Dr. Manmohan Singh Prime Minister of India recalled some of the provisions of Right to Education Act and pointed out the way suggested by educationist and philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurthy as an answer to questions of class room discicpline without punishment. The following are the relevant parts of the speech:
Our Government is committed to provide quality education to all. The Right to Education Act was passed by the Parliament last year. The Right to Education Act and Article 21-A of our Constitution guaranteeing elementary education as a Fundamental Right, have now become operational with effect from 1st April 2010. I compliment and pay tribute to my colleague Shri Kapil Sibal for the zeal, dedication and enthusiasm that he has brought to bear on the work of this most important ministry of Union Government, that Human Resource Development Ministry is. I had on that occasion addressed the nation and recounted my own childhood experience of studying in extremely difficult and adverse circumstances. Time has come for all of us to change this situation and ensure that every child in this country of ours has the opportunity to exercise his or her right to an education of equitable quality, and thereby making the Right to Education a grand national movement. Today, you have both challenge and opportunity to provide good quality education to all our children. Through you, our nation aspires to build in our children a commitment to the values of democracy, and the values of equality, justice, freedom, secularism, respect for human dignity and human rights. I urge you to develop in our children independence of thought, action and capacity of carefully considered, decision making which is based on reason and understanding. Through you, our children must develop a sensitivity to others’ well-being and feelings. Through you, our children must develop the ability to work and participate in economic and social processes and in processes of social change.
These aspirations for our children necessarily mean that the school environment should be free from fear, trauma and anxiety. No child, irrespective of caste, gender or community to which he or she belongs should dread the thought of going to school. The RTE Act bans corporal punishment and mental harassment. It also bans detention and expulsion. These provisions have led many teachers to question how discipline will be maintained in the classroom. The answer to this important issue was given by the well known philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti: “Discipline is an easy way to control a child, but it does not help him to understand the problems involved in living… If the teacher can give full attention to each child, observing and helping him, then compulsion or domination or discipline in any form may be unnecessary”.