Ryan murder effect: Schools in limbo over CBSE's diktat to conduct psychometric test on staff

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Ryan murder effect: Schools in limbo over CBSE's diktat to conduct psychometric test on staff

The tests ordered by CBSE entails every school staff to undergo it in two stages - first, which determines their personality structure, and the second, which examines their current illness.

Confusion looms large over the psychometric test on teaching and non-teaching staff ordered by CBSE following the death of seven-year-old Pradyuman Thakur inside the school premises.

School authorities are facing a major dilemma over how to get the test done and even if they have the results, what should be their protocol. According to guidelines issued by CBSE on September 12 in compliance with directions given by the HRD ministry in 2014, the heads of all schools affiliated to CBSE must get police verification and psychometric evaluation done for all the staff employed.

"Such verification and evaluation for non-teaching staff such as bus drivers, conductors, peon and other support staff may be done very carefully and in a detailed manner," reads the circular issued by CBSE.

The tests ordered by CBSE entails every school staff to undergo it in two stages - first, which determines their personality structure, and the second, which examines their current illness. While in the first test comprising 600 questions, school authorities can understand if the staff is asocial, unfriendly or narcissistic; in the second round, illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia can be detected "Which psychometric test and who should I get it done from? The board has asked us to get it done from school counsellors but will that hold relevance later on and is that even accepted by higher authorities?" wondered the principal of an esteemed school in the Capital.

"After you have given me the order of conducting the psychometric test on my staff, also tell me what should I do if the person does not qualify this test," the principal said. Teachers have suggested that in addition to these tests, regular inspections and verification can prevent crimes from taking place in schools. "Instead of resorting to band-aid measures and decisions taken in the heat of the moment, we can focus on regular verifications," advised Jayashree Mohan, a senior teacher at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya.

However, psychiatrists have been quick to reject too much reliance on psychometric tests. "Psychometric tests can prove to be more dreadful than helpful. It is not an infallible method because when the staff knows they are being watched, why would they admit to the problems they are facing ?" questioned Dr. Rajeev Mehta, a senior psychiatrist at Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In such an atmosphere where they are compelled to undergo this test, the school staff will take it under immense fear and anxiety.

"Instead, schools should resort to observing their staff for a period of 15-20 days. If authorities come across anything unusual, they can proceed with a mental health test," he suggested. CBSE officials maintain the tests are being taken to maintain the safety protocols that should ideally be in place as preventive measures to avert mishaps in schools. "The overall spirit of the scheme is to ensure safe environment in schools," said a board spokesperson.