One of the shocking realisations that I had during my trips to Polytechnics was the overwhelming presence of discipline and ethical issues amongst Polytechnic students. Most polytechnics were grappling with a high level of student indiscipline and unruly behaviour. More than the academic and operational challenges, the student discipline issues pose the biggest challenge to the faculty, management and the institutions.
Sample some of the issues that I noticed during my visits. One of the colleges in Tamil Nadu had this notice on their notice board:
"This student has been dismissed from the institution since he was found in a fully drunken state in the classroom on ..........".
On further speaking to the Principals, this seems to be a major issue across many Polytechnics. The Principals and faculty attribute this to the family background. Most of these students take up drinking seeing their father. In most cases these students come from families where the father happens to be a habitual drinker.
The second major issue noted amongst Polytechnic students is the unruly nature of many students. Sometimes such unruly behaviour also results in violence. Cases of one student beating up the other seem to be common amongst several Polytechnics in the country. In some colleges, I came across teams of Police personnel investigating a violent incidence involving either individual or groups of students. Such behaviour is most often attributed to broken families of the students. In many cases the father might be a violent person, thanks to his drinking habits and the student learns from his behaviour.
Whatever be the issue, the challenge of discipline and violent behaviour can not be addressed without the active involvement of the parents of such students. However Polytechnics do not seem to address this issue other than just by admonition or punishment. In one of the colleges that I visited, one of the students who had hit another student was being admonished by a group of 5 people without even listening to the student's feelings. This admonition session went on for nearly 3 hours. If colleges believe that they can change students for the better with such measures, they are badly mistaken.
Surprisingly, none of the Polytechnics that I visited had a Psychological Counsellor! Knowing well that these students come from challenging family backgrounds, the colleges must be focusing on offering counselling services to these students. All the student needs is somebody who will listen to them patiently, support them through their difficult times and provide them the much needed direction.
It is not sufficient that these colleges provide only technical education. They must also rise to these challenges and ensure that their students pass out as technicians with a strong value system. Ultimately, a value driven work force can make a world of difference to not just the individuals but to the nation and its development too!