A pupil of standard six, hardly 11, brandishes a cutter at his teacher in the school compound in front of the school personnel and other pupils. A teacher is intoxicated nearly to death by a couple of pupils who introduced chalk powder in his bread when he was out. College students decide to stage unlimited protests against management for insufficient facilities. Yet another group of students walk out as the Minister of Education moves to deliver his speech on the occasion of the Independence and republic day celebrations. Do these sound normal?
Every action has an opposite and equal reaction, says a simple law of physics.
Our schools have lost the aura of my times in the 60’s when discipline and order were, not only enforced, but seen to be enforced and maintained. You couldn’t go to school in loosely worn clothes, long ruffled hair or with any ornaments. You had to be smart, even in shabby clothing, hair neatly combed, and observe the rules otherwise the Head Teacher would summon you in his office, and in serious cases your parents, and reprimand you or even expel you for repeated misdemeanor. Teachers too had to behave well. Male teachers had to wear a tie at least, no jeans, stamped clothing or T-shirt. Once in the school compound no body had the right to move around or leave without permission. No outsiders were allowed, except on strict business and with the consent of the Head.
It’s quite different nowadays. Not much restriction on clothing or appearance, the child has a mobile, and he’s the son of Mr. Influence. Just hit a child, and you’ll see; the whole world will fall on you. Child bashing; attempt at angels’ rights, they’d say. Does anyone dare talk about their responsibilities? We used to have classes of morals and religious knowledge; no more or not enough now. The teacher has to be wary of his belongings or at the turn of his back he’d meet with a surprise, an unpleasant one of course.
Aggressiveness and violence have become commonplace. We’ve also heard of school children waiting for their teachers on the streets to settle scores. The schools have high fencing and guarded rust-proof gates, yet any Tom, Dick and Harry can access, no questions asked. We live in a democracy. Education, or let’s say schooling is free. Bus fares are free. Do we really care about the quality?
When angels rise up, it means there’s something. If we don’t act in time we’ll go in history for complacency. A lot has been said about the rights of children. Have they been initiated on their duties and responsibilities as good citizens? Parents, government, socio-cultural organizations, the Ombudsman for children, all have their share… of responsibility. Now or it may be too late.