by N. Arunkumar
As a concerned citizen of the state, I have watched the drama of the missing student of a private school in Imphal, with bemused amusement. First, the school authorities had reprimanded a boy who had apparently misbehaved with a fellow girl student, besides having bunked classes and loitered on the streets when he should have been in a classroom. The parents of the boy promptly blamed the school for, of all reasons, reprimanding a boy who had obviously transgressed on conventional social order. He was wrong in everything he did. From bunking classes to passing comments on a fellow girl student, the boy’s behaviour calls for stringent corrective punishment, though the parents want us to believe otherwise. If such a trend continues in our society, we can rest assured that the future generation will comprise of students who have never been corrected in school due to fear by the school authorities, as anyone will take advantage of such emerging trend. The school in question was smeared with a hate campaign by the parents and the rather irresponsible JAC in this case. They have cut a sorry figure of themselves in this matter and acted irresponsibly, even going to the extent of calling a state wide general strike, inconveniencing the entire society for a disobedient boy.
There is a need for the JAC to apologize publicly to the school authorities as well as the society at large, because they had managed to postpone and disturb many programmes set up by individuals and groups for the day of the proposed general strike. If we allow such deliberate strong arm tactics to be employed by parents of wayward students, then the future of education, which is already pathetic in the state for that matter, is under more duress. More schools will stop correcting students fearing a vicious backlash by the parents and one can just imagine the outcome of such attitude by school authorities. Besides all the pressures that they function under today, this kind of irresponsible attitude of parents of school going children will only add to the deterioration being witnessed by us. Our society seems to be quick to react to any actions by schools, and we wonder why children are being sent to schools at all. If they are so sensitive to being punished by outside forces, then their children should be kept at home and tutored in the safe surrounding of their own homes. The school is not necessary in this case. Students don’t need correction or moral education, and they are not to be disciplined for their misdeeds.
The situation is rather deplorable. A generation is about to come up, who have not been educated on the most important aspects of civil behaviour or civic responsibilities. We are simply doomed, in this state of affairs. I strongly recommend that the parents of the student in question who has disgustingly misbehaved with the school must publicly apologise for their a priori judgements against the school authorities. Otherwise, this trend will encourage other students and parents to settle accounts with private schools in the state in similar fashions, if not worse. We believe that private schools are here only to make money and have no commitment towards ensuring quality education to the students. It is far from true, as the record of the private schools in producing good citizens today is much better than the government run apologies of schools. The poorly paid private school teachers are doing their jobs in a much better organized and structured format than the pathetic government run schools. The irony of the matter is that the so called teachers and principals of government schools send their own children to private schools for better education. What can be more ironical than that? I therefore completely empathise with teachers who desist from correcting students for the misdemeanours today.
My own son thinks it is his right to behave in a high – handed manner often in his academic pursuits, taking advantage of his teachers’ attitude towards his mistakes. I am the last person who will tolerate his pranks unless it is genuine and I am convinced to that effect. He will not get any leniency from me on such account and he knows it well enough. I am the boss and my son better fall in line without expecting me to let him ride piggy back on me, by violating certain norms of societal responsibilities. If he violates or transgresses the prescribed parameters of upholding his values in society, I shall not let him off lightly without punishment. I hope that my efforts in educating him to live within the boundaries of society and its accepted conventions will bear fruit in the long run. Moreover, in this month of celebrating Teachers Day, it is paradoxical that such an incident should come to the fore, and concern all of us as it was turned into a social issue by the parents of the boy and the JAC formed to handle the issue and blow it out of proportions. If they had gone ahead with their intended general strike to force the school to produce the child from out of thin air, who would compensate the huge loss to the thousands of meagre earners who would have lost their day’s wages? Is this a responsible manner of resolving an issue that was entirely a private matter, which should have remained within the walls of the boy’s house and the sanctity of the school compound?
Is this the respect we extend to our educational institutions? What moral lesson has the child been taught at the end of the day? That he can do anything and get away from punishment as his parents will quickly blame others for his misdemeanour in the face of disciplinary actions against him. This is a dangerous trend and parents must understand that however they may wish to see the end of private schools from Manipur, it is impossible to expect the government to provide the services to cater to our entire society. We are not a commie nation as yet. When it becomes one, we shall see. For the moment though, it is this system that can help us to deliver a better society in future, and let’s not kill that chance also by immature reactions by some mischievous elements within our society today. They must realize that it is not our business to interfere in their personal matters which they decide to take to the streets.