Merchants of innocence


With a loaded packed bag nearly half his weight, struggling to get up in the wee hours, rushing for tuitions and to school, it is sad that our children today has no time for hobbies and plays. The little soul has no time to take delight in daily sunrise. Before the sun actually dawns, he is made to rise from his dreamy bed. He is made to behave mechanically, ala the animated robo-cat he likes to watch. Are all of us utterly helpless in re-christening the innocent infancy of our kids? As the childhood of our kids is getting packed down under the burden of so-called modern-day competition, its ‘norms and demands’, aren’t the parents and teachers equally responsible for this unpardonable crime? It’s a pitiless affair. And, unscientific as well! In one of her articles titled The Early Bird Gets the Bad Grade, Nancy Kalish, an internationally acclaimed journalist and an author, wrote, “For those still searching for a policy that might have a positive impact, here’s an idea: stop focusing on testing and instead support changing the hours of the school day, starting it later for kids and ending it later for all children.” Another issue that needs attention is the amount of load our children are forced to carry on their back. Today our students are wilting under the burden of bags. Reportedly last year there were some murmurs in the administrative circles that the load on children will be lessened. But that seems to be nothing more than a bureaucratic exercise. A common citizen is not bothered about the bills and the resolutions passed, the deliberations made and the speeches delivered. What counts is the result. Have our children been freed of the torture or not? The scene on the ground says no. Ask parents (and if you are a parent, you know the answer). It’s what it has been. No change whatsoever. Wonder what we are discussing? Should we crush our children under the load of books and stationeries or not? What is important? The money our educational institutions and business centres earn or the health of these tender souls? Money is good, but let it not cost us the wellbeing of our children. Can we make kids as cash crops? Do these questions invite answers in the form of ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Are we educationists or merchants of innocence and is this education or child abuse? We are not here talking about the mental burden that is a separate issue for psychologists to comment on. What hurts us more is the physical stress which is killing this ill-fated generation. They are paying price for being born at a wrong time. We have a legal system in place. What is missing is the implementation. If we are committing a social crime why is the system allowing it? It’s a brazen child right violation which is unfortunately encouraged in the guise of education. Parents suggest, reporters report, speakers do a lot of table thumping, but nothing happens. What then is to be done other than making resolutions about it? Judiciary has to act like municipality. We need enforcement squads to ensure that our children are saved from this terror. Make bag patrols and raid schools to monitor the menace. Don’t go by the minutes of the meeting which mislead us into believing that all is well (which it’s not). Files and papers are lifeless unless we infuse life into them by seeing the change practically. In fact our schools in general and a few known schools in our major towns in particular should be made responsible. It pains when a child of four or five is shaken out of sleep at six in the morning, a bread toast stuffed into his mouth in the name of breakfast and a heavy sack of books thrust on him. We should be ashamed of our behaviour as money hungry hounds who don’t even spare the young. Change the timing, lessen the load and restore schooling the joy it once used to be. Our children have been already robbed of all beauties of childhood. Don’t rob them further.