Regular readers of my blog know that I almost never comment on current affairs because online breast beating and ranting and raving is is not going to be of any purpose and once we have expressed our outrage we are going to just go back to our privileged everyday lives while whatever just agitated us is still going to be there tomorrow. But this once I felt I had to get it off my chest.
And I am talking here about the news report from Bangalore where children who were admitted in “posh” schools under the Free seat (25%) mandated scheme of the Right to Education Act were cropped their hair short to differentiate them in class from the other kids who paid full tuition fee.
Well, what can I say about the school administrators who thought up this scheme? Or the teachers who went along with them? And permitted this kind of atrocious treatment to be perpetrated on the kids in their classroom? I have great respect for teachers, but if a teacher allowed this kind of thing to take place in her class room, then I would have to question the teachers standards and the values they are going to pass on to the next generation.
Think about the kids who had their hair cut forcibly at school. What would they think of themselves? Wont they feel a bit unworthy all their lives after this kind of assault during their childhood? Think of the enormous psychological damage and the sense of inferiority this would have caused in those young minds who for no other reason, no other fault of their own, except for their poverty, have been punished by this cruel way?
And what would the other kids- the normal fee payers- have made of this incident? When they see some of their classmates separated and ill treated for being different and being poor? Wont they get it branded in their mind that if you are poor, you get your hair cut short and are made to sit in a corner like a criminal. They would have learnt the lesson, quite young, that some are really lesser beings than others and being callous and indifferent is the way to go about life. They are the ones who will be more damaged for life than even the kids with the short hair- for they will be learning false lessons of life.
So whose fault is this state? The fault of the parents who even if they cannot afford the tuition fee of those “posh” schools still feel greedy enough to admit their kids there? Why? Because they want their kids to have chance they never had- a better education at a good school? Or because they never thought of demanding from the government they pay taxes to, to make sure that all schools have as good standards as those exclusive private schools?
Is it the fault of the government which was in such a hurry to enact the RTE (just before some elections-vote bank politics as usual?) and despite the best advice from experts chose to ignore it all and tried to bring in a more egalitarian society by executive fiat? Is this what those legislators had in mind when they mandated that 25%?. That a few such scare stories will make the entire RTE a paper tiger not worth the page it is printed on? Not entirely surprising if this turns out to be true- for most private schools are the benami property of well connected socialites and politicians. If people start giving up then the bad guys win.
I just hope that like the black Americans overcame the early hassles in integrated education by gighting for their rights from inside the school system, our people too fight to educate their children and demand accountability from these people. This could turn out to be a Rosa Parks Moment for Education, but will it?