CHILDREN

Kavin*, a student of Class 6 in a private school in Chennai, was bullied by his classmates for a long time. He did not know how to seek help for his predicament until recently when the school appointed a counselling psychologist to ensure the mental health and overall well-being of its students. When the counsellor observed bullying by a few students, she organised a successful group session for all school children in that age group. While her meetings with the children had a positive impact on their behaviour, it was short-lived as the counsellor had to quit the job owing…

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Raja*, a 13-year-old boy, was protesting on the streets along with his mother and neighbours when their houses in Govindasamy Nagar were demolished by the government in May 2022. "The government disconnected the electricity supply to our houses for almost 10 days. We had our annual exams during this time and all the children in the area could not study at home. We tried to study under the street lights where there were many mosquitoes. But, before our exams got over, the government demolished our houses," he says. Raja and other children in the area were forced to take to…

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In a recent development, the State Education Department issued a directive to all regional deputy directors of education and district education officers. They are tasked with identifying and consolidating small schools within their respective jurisdictions by October 15, aiming to integrate them into larger schools as part of the 'cluster school' initiative. If realised, this program will entail approximately 200,000 students commuting considerable distances to access education. While this initiative has been in the planning stages for several months, its core objective is to improve the quality of education. This would be achieved by exposing students to a larger peer…

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The increasing instances of student suicides in Chennai have brought the need to discuss mental health of students, especially teenagers, to the fore. Given that the environment at home and at school has a major role to play in the mental health of students, a closer examination of what transpires in these spaces is essential. Saranya A, the founder of Arukah Counselling Service, speaks to Citizen Matters on the factors that affect the mental health of students and what can be done to create safe spaces for them. Saranya A, Counselling Psychologist Saranya holds a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology…

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It has been just over a month. The incident at an educational institute in NOIDA where a young boy killed his girlfriend, and then killed himself, sent shockwaves through the city. Unfortunately, this is no isolated case. Deaths by suicide or criminal acts involving young adults are being reported with alarming frequency. Incidents like the NOIDA one is just another stark reminder of the grave mental health issues among a high proportion of our adolescent and youth population. Especially post-COVID. It is by now well known that certain behavioural trends among children are tell-tale signs of underlying mental health issues…

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Every day we see two Indias. One with Indians heading prestigious companies, one with high unemployment rates. One where children thrive in online classrooms, learning new digital skills and coding games and one where 15-year olds struggle with reading from a children’s picture book. As a country we have taken gigantic strides, while leaving so many of our own behind. The real status of literacy in India  One morning, I saw my maid’s daughter, who was educated in an English medium school and is pursuing her Bachelor’s in commerce, struggle to read and understand a story meant for Grade 2…

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Time spent in school during our formative years plays a crucial role in how we turn out as adults. This was certainly true for me. My ambitions ranged from being a 'symbologist' after reading Dan Brown to a chemist, after scoring the maximum marks in the subject. I am now a journalist, working a job that sates my curiosity and pays the bills. Many of my dreams and aspirations germinated because my school shaped my exposure to subjects, people and experiences. However, in retrospect, I also wish it had helped me become more aware of myself and the realities of…

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Savitha*, a 16-year-old minor girl from Chennai, was to be married off to a 35-year-old man in September of last year. Her parents invited close relatives to the ceremony by handing out invitations. Just as the wedding was about to take place, officials from Childline came to her rescue based on a tip-off from her 15-year-old cousin. He sent a copy of the invitation to the non-governmental organisation (NGO) that had once conducted an awareness programme on preventing child marriages in their locality. Savitha was lucky and was rescued on time. She is now pursuing an undergraduate degree in a…

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"Right to Education is a beacon of hope for us as we wish to see our children get educated," says Sita*, a daily wage worker. Her child has secured admission in a private matriculation school in Chennai on a seat reserved under the Right to Education, or RTE, Act. "We cannot afford the fees of private schools. I did not study, but I want to see my child educated, and climb up the ladder of life." The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE) is an Act of the Parliament of India…

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On February 1st, the finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the union budget for 2022-23, announced a plan to steer urban planning and development, referring to the fact that by 2047, half of India’s population will be urban. Her budget speech proposed nurturing of megacities to become centres of economic growth and preparing tier 2 and 3 to take on a similar path in the future. Her proposal included setting up a high-level committee consisting of urban planners, urban economists and institutions to make recommendations on urban sector policies, capacity building, planning, implementation, and governance.  As our cities grow larger,…

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