The tragedy of a ninth grade student of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College taking her own life after being rebuked by her school teachers is a wakeup call for us regarding the responsibility of school authorities to ensure that a child is treated with dignity and sensitivity no matter what the offence he or she has committed. In this case, the girl, a student of one of the most well-reputed schools of the country, was allegedly caught copying notes from her phone while taking an exam. The child was severely reprimanded and threatened with expulsion from the school. The teenager was so distraught by this that she went home and took her life.
This is not the first time that a child or young person has resorted to suicide because of the apathy or cruelty of teachers or authorities of the institution. Recently, a university student of BRAC University who had mental health issues took his life on a residential campus. There have been other cases where students have committed suicide because of bullying or after being humiliated by their teachers. It is clear that immediate steps have to be taken to address possible mental health issues of students. This includes having student counselling facilities that are easily accessible to students in trouble. School authorities and teachers, in particular, must be extra vigilant and sensitive about students who appear vulnerable. In the case of the ninth grader who was so humiliated that she thought the only recourse was death, it is obvious that the teachers were completely insensitive to the psyche of a person of such an impressionable age.
We are heartened to know that the education ministry and the school authorities have formed probe bodies to investigate this case which shows their seriousness in wanting to prevent such tragedies in the future. Hopefully, these findings will raise awareness among teachers and authorities of these institutions regarding how they should behave with students even when they have broken the rules. It is high time that educational institutions considered the mental health of students as a serious issue.