Childhood is children’s privilege

Childhood is children’s privilege Image Credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development (Circles of care Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

During the recent torrential rains and road flooding I was struck by a single photograph how a young school girl was being escorted by her mother to school holding an umbrella to cover her from rain.

This, to me was a living example of dedication from both the child and the mother. There must have been hundreds of such cases which did not come into focus from the Press.

Young Experience

These days, we see school children in their uniforms coming out on to the roads looking quite fresh, at the crack of dawn, and returning home pretty fatigued as late as 5 p.m. This takes me back to our school days when our schools started at 9 a.m. and finished at 3 p.m.

 For us, as school kids,  it was really a pleasure to get on to a Raleigh Sports bike and glide away free as a lark. From the time we came home in the afternoon what did we do? Go for tuition classes? No, not really!   After having a cup of tea or another session of rice and curry we ended up in a playing field either playing cricket or football. Did we have to cram before the exams? Not that either.

We concentrated carefully to what was taught in our classroom, took notes and when we came home threw the books away and never touched them till the following morning. I must admit that our teachers discharged their duties with due care and much responsibility. Children were not burdened or loaded with homework or projects like today, neither they were made to become Hunchback of Notre-Dame when they grew up bymaking it  compulsory for  them to carry on their rucksacks loads of books weighing a few kilos!  Even our parents did not have to get all stressed up or involved frequently in trying to help us on subjects or material  for projects that were far beyond their knowledge !1

Private tuition

Unfortunately today, the adage which says:

“Work while you work, play while you play, that is the only way to be happy and gay”,

has flown through the windows of schools and homes alike and become work, work, work and private tuition!

Today our children are faced not only with academic competition and restricted opportunities to enter universities but are obsessively engrossed in a new game which has created a tax free industry for many to make an additional income to boost their family revenue which goes beyond the reach of the Inland Revenue.

Out of curiosity I once responded to one of the English tuition classes to be told that the charge would be Rs 3000 per month + an enrolment fee. Mind you, there appeared to be about 300 students and English tuition was conducted in a spacious hall with the aid of a microphone and speakers.

Now this beats me as to how a child can learn English in a group of 300 amplified through a microphone?

The danger of mushrooming private tuition classes is that there is no official registration process where one has to satisfy Education Minister that one is qualified enough to take the responsibility of holding private tuition classes. In case of teachers who are already attached to the Department may not purposely cover the syllabus mischievously to allow room for students to come to them for extra tuition - bit similar to that of medical doctors who work in Health Department doing private practice and channelling patients to their private clinics.

By generating their own curriculum as opposed to the Education Department’s laid down syllabi these tuition masters can also play a vital role where they not only jeopardise children’s education but create their own markets.

Western philosophy as opposed to our own mentality on sports would be that children who compete on glory on school playing fields stand the better chance of achieving academic success and a worthwhile career.

Education system

Pupils who play with determination to win are said to be more likely to pursue higher academic levels than those who stand and shiver on the sidelines.

A survey conducted in the UK on the subject has revealed that if parents discourage their sons and daughters to abandon competitive sports and pressurise them to concentrate on lessons and examinations alone, all the time, then they naturally are wasting their time. The theory behind sports is believed to be the WILL to win which will see them through in adult life even after they have given up the favourite sporting pastime.

Critical analysis of the education system in Sri Lanka has been very much in the news during the recent General Elections. Now with a team of new ministers for education and higher education perhaps the areas that need focusing would be:

(a) Should extra tuition classes really necessary for children if a proper syllabus is programmed and teaching staff are made responsible to discharge their duties with love and dedication.

(b) Should a registration and monitoring system of private tuition masters be introduced and implemented vigilantly.

(c) What are the mental states of children who are constantly being pressurised to studies and tuition only, leaving them with no time at all to relax as children and to enjoy their childhood?

(d) What would be the impact of such pressurisation and how would they react as adults and take up responsibility as grown up citizens of this land?

After all one thing we should not forget is the fact that children of today are the rulers and caretakers of our society tomorrow. It would, therefore, be the responsibility of those in authority to think far ahead in formulating new educational strategies and implement them stringently thus offering the children the best of both educational and recreational facilities, remembering simultaneously that childhood comes to a person only once in a lifetime and it is our responsibility, as masters of the game, not to ruin that privilege for ever for any child.

Courtesy Daily News

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