Ananya S Guha
The death of a six or seven year old boy in a school at Gurgaon highlights how schools have become unsafe for children. Even now, the cause of the death is unclear, although initially the media, as it is usually wont to do, pronounced it on the school bus driver, much in the way they did it for the Aarushi case.
Schools have become unsafe, so what about education? If we are apprehensive in sending our wards to school, then what purpose will an educational Institution serve? Parents spend fulsome amounts on educating their children, hoping that this is the best they can give. Then they invest in private coaching and tutorial classes. But even safety isn’t ensured. The school authorities and the police are now clueless as to what was the cause of the murder. Nothing is more pitiable than this. A six year old, a child who should be comforted and cared for is brutally murdered. What are our intellectuals and educators doing? Can’t they go out to the streets and protest? Are political issues, the only matter, which they voice issues about? The death of children in Uttar Pradesh, now, the brutalization of society, has assailed our human rights as never before. Education, especially for school children must be accorded greatest priority. It is not only the classroom situation, but perspectives must be wholesome, what happens also outside the classroom, and the safety of children.
The privatization of education has made it increasingly commercial. This commercialization, has brought in its wake disturbing factors of education as business. Once there is interplay of business with education, many of its finer points are neglected. What was the Principal of the school doing in Mumbai? A Principal must be vigilant at every point about the school, as there are children and young adults there, the latter susceptible to external influences. Quality is measurable in terms of the extra academic, and most of all safety. If children are not safe in the precincts of a second home, then, hell to education, and all the glorification it stands for.
In a recent discussion on the media, many venerable discussants pointed out about this safety. One argued vehemently for electronic intervention Can machines replace tender care and comfort? We are so enmeshed in certain comfort zones, that the idea of the human touch becomes sacrilege. Everything is seen in terms of technology. Can technology solve all problems, then why is this crime, becoming almost insoluble? In the school where I studied in Shillong, in the sixties and seventies, there were ayahs to look after five or six year old children, and they were like mothers to them. Harping on technology is deviating from the point. Children must get human protection, and the protection of teachers and elders. Schools can easily spend more money on this aspect. Classroom education. must be or can be, technology driven, but not safety. At best electronic devices can be a means to an end.
It is high time the government frames universal rules, for the safety of children and students in schools. It is high time a system of common and commonality schools emerge across the length and breadth of the country, so that private schools cannot administer systems, in the way they want.