There! I voiced out my worst fear. And I am sure the worst fear of many other parents too. As a mother of a toddler who is about to start school, I have lost more than just sleep over the gruesome murder of seven years old Pradhyuman.
I have lost faith in the schooling system.
I have lost trust on educators.
I have lost the enthusiasm and courage to send my little girl to school.
All of us, ranging from the SIT (Special Investigation Team) to every worried parent is scrambling for answers to questions like- who is guilty? Is it the perpetrator of the crime alone, or the entire school authority that should be held accountable? What are the causes of this heinous crime? Is it just the criminal intent of the murderer or the massive failure of the security measures at Ryan International School?
While the murderer should be strictly punished (to say the least), and yes, the school authority should be held responsible for the laxity in safety and security measures, I feel there are other fundamental aspects that need immediate attention.
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The most pertinent being the concrete action that needs to be taken to curb such occurrences in the future; to ensure no other child meets with a similar fate.
With sexual predators, kidnappers, and other offenders on the prowl, it is vital that we as parents keep ourselves in open communication with our children. It is more pertinent now than ever before that we educate and sensitize our children about their bodies, good and bad touch, about immediately communicating any discomfort they experience, however slight that might be.
Stringent policies, pertaining to security measures at school, need to be drafted at the state and central administration level. It should be made mandatory for each and every school to abide by the security policies made by the administration; failing which, the schools will face shut down and appropriate punitive action.
But most of all, the schools and other educational institutions need to undergo a culture change. Schools these days are becoming more and more like corporate organizations, their motto being increasing footfall and the bottom line. As a result of this, education has become an impersonal experience for both the students and the educators. No one seems to care if one among thousands of students is hurt, as long as the brand image of the school is maintained.
Schools are equipped with the latest pedagogical tools and technologies but lack the heartfelt connect between teachers and students. Everybody is out there to just get a job done! Ironically, how many of their advertisement hoarding taglines; “ignite and inspire young minds!” really mean it? Or is it just to display the creative work that their hired content writer can do?
While I am certain, there are institutions that are exceptions to this rule, but given the rise in the percentage of crime in educational institutions in the last few years, I wonder are we headed to a technologically advanced, professional, extremely impersonal, almost robotic future?
The need of the hour is to build a caring connection with the young minds, create a safe space at schools to nurture them. After all, it is in classrooms that the foundation of the future India is being laid.
Let's not look at schooling as just a system to churn out literate and skilled professionals, but as a system that enhances the creative and moral spirit of young minds.
“Teach kids humanity and truth, not just to score marks,” said freedom fighter and activist HS Doreswamy. Isn’t that true? But, we all are running the rat race, and assuming that truth and humanity are perhaps very little things that can be learnt much later in life, no? If any one teacher from that school had learnt the value of truth, today we would know the answer to, “who killed Pradhyuman?”
Sometimes it really is the little things that count the most.