Psychologists and educationists have stressed the need to effectively implement the mobile psychology counselling programme for school students. The demand gained traction after a 17-year-old student of a private school in Coimbatore died by suicide following alleged sexual harassment by her teacher.
After the girl’s death, School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi said school students can report their issues to the department’s helpline 14417 which was started in 2018. Educationists slammed the School Education department stating that it failed to implement the mobile psychology counselling programme, despite the State government allocated Rs. 32,500 crore to the Education sector in the budget for 2021-22.
A psychologist at the School Education department said, “In 2012, a student killed his teacher at a school in Chennai as the teacher repeatedly sent adverse remarks on his studies to his parents. Hearing the case, Madras High Court directed psychology counselling to be offered to school students. Based on the order, the mobile counselling programme was implemented in 2013.”
He said psychologists counsel students of Classes IX to XII on managing problems of adolescence, women safety, improving academic performance, managing stress and depression, creating awareness on POSCO Act The SCERT initiated the programme in 2013.
Sharing her experience, a psychologist said, in 2015, a class 10 girl reported that a male teacher touched her inappropriately after psychologists explained the topic of ‘good touch and bad touch. The teacher was suspended after the issue was taken to concerned officials.
“During counselling sessions, psychologists could identify issues faced by students such as love affair, inferiority complex, sexual harassment at school and outside, etc. If the counselling sessions are held frequently, teachers will dare not misbehave with students,” she suggested.
Further, pointing out that even teachers were not aware of the helpline 14417, the psychologist questioned how students could contact the line without awareness. Tamil Nadu Psychology Association president K Balamurugan told TNIE, “At present, many parents and children do not have a good relationship and understanding.
The same is the case with teachers and children. Mainly, that is what pushes the students to suicidal thoughts. If the relationships improve, students won’t get such thoughts.” Also, he suggested that basic psycho-education be given to primary classes, “We had submitted a petition to Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Service Corporation chairperson Dindigul I Leoni,” he added.
Educationist and professor K Leninbarathi told TNIE, “Though the intention of the scheme is good, both the present and the previous governments failed to implement it effectively. In the current situation, two psychologists are needed in each education district. The government should focus on this issue.”
Sources in the School Education department said the programme was not working effectively across the State as officials failed to allocate funds and psychologists were appointed on a consolidated salary. They also blamed the lack of interest among top educational officers for the programme going ineffective. Repeated attempts to reach top officials of the School Education Department and School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi went in vain.
As sexual harassment in schools is the talk of the town in Tamilnadu. So, the government should renovate the mobile counselling programme to help students get proper counselli
ng for their issues.
Read, A boy from Coimbatore ends life after mom refuses to give phone on yourcoimbatore.com