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Schools Please Save Children!

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With my morning coffee, I did not think that a newspaper report would make the taste of my favorite cookie turn less crispy and flavorless!
The news article which reads as” Experts debate can psychometry of staff make schools safer or not” left me completely speechless and curious at the same time. The content starts with the concern showcased by schools , where they are contacting the Psychiatrists in the city by calls and emails to know how effective the Psychometric tests as suggested by CBSE to all its affiliated schools to incorporate in their recruitment mechanism would make schools safer for our children?
I am then compelled to quote some of the bigwigs of India’s Mental Healthcare department , who think that such suggested tests have less value and serves no purpose at all .
This triggered me to research about the subject and go a little deep as required in such efflorescent situation in our country today. I thought is pertinent to share with all parents, individuals and concerned groups/forums who are part of being stakeholders in the effective running of the society. So here are some of the facts that we all must know :

➢ Psychometric tests have been used since the early part of the 20th century and were originally developed for use in educational psychology. Apart from the field of education, we are likely to encounter psychometric testing as part of the recruitment or selection process. Tests of this sort are devised by occupational psychologists and their aim is to provide employers with a reliable method of selecting the most suitable job applicants or candidates for promotion.

➢ Psychometric tests are a standard and scientific method used to measure individuals' mental capabilities and behavioral style.

➢ Psychometric tests are designed to measure candidates' suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude (or cognitive abilities). They identify the extent to which candidates' personality and cognitive abilities match those required to perform the role. Employers use the information collected from the psychometric test to identify the hidden aspects of candidates that are difficult to extract from a face-to-face interview.

➢ Psychometric tests aim to measure attributes like intelligence, aptitude and personality. They provide a potential employer with an insight into how well you work with other people, how well you handle stress, and whether you will be able to cope with the intellectual demands of the job.

➢ Psychometric tests can be used as part of the recruitment and selection process by employers to assess your ability in specific skills (eg, verbal, numerical and diagrammatical reasoning) or to find out about your personal qualities by using personality questionnaires.

➢ Psychometric testing is now used by over 80% of the Fortune 500 companies in the USA and by over 75% of the Times Top 100 companies in the UK. Information technology companies, financial institutions, management consultancies, local authorities, the civil service, police forces, fire services and the armed forces all make extensive use of use psychometric testing.

Dr Samir Parikh, Director department of mental health and behavioral sciences, Fortis Healthcare, quite conveniently have commented that , “It serves no purpose as it’s a generalized evaluation of a person’s current state of mind and cannot be an indicator of whether the person will assault a kid in future or not”. This is a very nonchalant response to such a fiery condition that is being faced by our society today. My humble submission to such a insouciant attitude is that if there is even 1% chance of getting the best out of such tests, then we must go for it and truly encourage it to be part of the recruitment process for both teaching as well as non-teaching staff in school which is sanctum sanctorum of education. Also to mention here that such tests are personality tests which are harmless to conduct and very effective apparatus in the hand of educational institutions.
Dr. Rajesh Sagar, professor, department of psychiatry, AIIMS, has very well pointed out the shortage of mental health professionals in India with an estimated 300%-350% demand and supply gap which questions the feasibility of conducting the psychometric tests. He said, “We have not been able to provide trained counselors to schools because there is an acute shortage of trained psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.”
The above such comments and opinions , actually requires a substantial amount of serious contemplation of all the aspects of a society now. As no one can deny the fact that India is the most populous country in the world with the highest percentage of unemployed youth, then it makes me wonder as why then people do not opt for a career in clinical psychology with focuses extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients with behavioral intervention. A psychologist is not able to write prescriptions, but may recommend a patient be seen by a fellow psychiatrist in order to receive medications. A medical degree is not mandatory to become school counselors. This points to the fact that then there is some problem in recruiting trained psychologists by most of the schools today. This could mean a good salary that is expected by a trained perssonnal of this department which schools are not able to cope up with, but on whose opinion , the safety and security of our children depends. For the above, what is expected out of persons at accountable posts in departments that they should make a humble appeal to the government and public to bring out better psychologists in the educational institutions in the interest of safety and security of our children rethare than suggesting the entire excerise to be a futile one .
Dr Sagar’s another comment, “ These tests take long hours; sometimes one sitting is not enough and we may need to have two-three sittings and interpreting the results takes even longer”, is quite hilarious and bizarre! Such a remark questions the very precision of such a vocation whereby whenever a psychologist have reached to a conclusion in considering a person unfit in a particular situation then this itself is questionable and doubtful and adverse effects.
As a concerned parent and above all as a concerned feared citizen of India , safety and security of children in schools are of utmost priority and responsibility . There must be a well-established selective process and check on the employment of school staff then a mere filing up of a form where a candidate just declares his background and it is only the candidate who is held responsible for this declaration. The schools in all situations are held Scott-free and not responsible. In fact it is like before boarding an aircraft, all passengers must declare whether they are terrorists or not and the airport authorities have no duty of maintain proper security checks to ensure it? Rather, it should have been suggested by the concerned responsible departments of the state that the credentials of aspiring candidates and those already employed in an educational institution, must be made public i.e at a forum accessible by parents of the wards studying in a particular school to well scrutinize them, be informed of all the details of such candidates and should be incorporated I the selection process as well to some extent possible. This will also share the burden of responsibility of the school and also the work of a psychologist would be lessened.
Therefore, it is a humble suggestion that the head of the institutions who care more about the financial aspects of running of the business od schools than about the safety and security of the children who are the future of India, be removed with immediate effect by our Hon’ble Prime Minister who really cares for India and wishes India to flourish forever.

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