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Education Needs Disaster Management

Highlights

Education Needs Disaster Management, Loss Of Time Intended, Loss of Nation. Democracy is a many-splendored thing and one of the greatest freedoms members in a true democracy enjoy is that of expression

PROBABLY NO ONE THOUGHT THAT A LOSS OF TIME INTENDED TO BE SPENT IN A CHILD’S EDUCATION IS A GREAT LOSS TO THE NATION.

Democracy is a many-splendored thing and one of the greatest freedoms members in a true democracy enjoy is that of expression. By its very nature, sometimes the system passes through turbulences, jolts, turmoils and then the nation’s progress, social life and many welfare programs get affected.

At times the violent mode of expressing protests or displeasure as well as the duration of the turbulence may be long stretched and at times it may be short, depending on the goals for which all the members strive. It is indisputable that all conscientious socialistic nations, nay all democratically inclined societies, respect the public’s voice and value their opinions. Simultaneously, knowing full well that any nation can advance economically, socially, culturally and health-wise as well as knowledge-wise only in times of peace, only when the running is smooth, it becomes the constant endeavor of all ideal governments to see that no disasters, natural or man-made, disturb the peaceful environment. In spite of the ‘disaster management lessons’ being learnt , we all see that sometimes protests, strikes, and natural havocs wreak irreparable damage and it becomes the first priority of the government to switch over to the first-aid mode before hastening measures to bring back normalcy at the earliest.

Bertrand Russell, while addressing the world in his famous speech ‘Man’s Peril’, identifies himself first as a human, next as a European and later as a Briton who primarily shares the concerns of humanity at large . I too feel that I am basically a conscientious human, next an Indian who loves and dreams of his country’s bright future, then a teacher who sees education in the 21st century as the vital force or the ‘live-sap’ of our nation and whatever be my personal preferences or ideologies, I share my concern for global sustainability, equity, skill-based education with all committed educationists globally .I see these in great jeopardy whenever there is unrest anywhere in the world.

The poor academic conditions in Afghanistan, Sudan, the almost ‘zero’ chances of normal schooling environment in Sri Lanka during its longstretched internal unrest are well known. Generations have passed and are still passing without true childhood .Today, my concern is closer home . There is one old proverb: “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost something is lost and when character is lost, everything is lost”. I would like to apply the last part to ‘education’ and say, ‘when education is lost, everything is lost’ in today’s world because it is like deforesting, denuding and leaving the fields barren without live sprouts for the future. Unfortunately, when there is any protest, the student community becomes the most vulnerable in many ways.

They are investing both their present and the future; leave alone the politically aware adults in universities, even the kindergarten kid is affected unknowingly. In the international scenario, preference in employment is always to students from universities and areas which are less disturbed by political unrest, which had a smooth academic calendar and could deliver the promised competence. In our country, there were many universities in the past which were identified as not ‘good enough’ for campus drives or placement drives.

It took years of hard work before the institutions could regain their stature internationally. Right now, what I see is that even professionally qualified students from 2013 batch would stand a lesser chance than their juniors because of the time they lost in agitations. Well, maybe many would argue that it is the price of democracy and any noble cause needs some sacrifices. What I would like to see is how the process of bridging the unplanned gaps in the academic year can be done smoothly once the agitations end. It is not about one region or one state that I talk, but about how teaching can be brought back on rails with less damage if it is planned in a better way.

I have tried to see if there are any special programs in ‘disaster management’ relating to this area. Surprisingly there are none. We have disaster management courses to cover many areas and many degrees are offered in this subject to address the problems of industries, companies, agriculture, health, etc. Probably no one thought that a loss of time intended to be spent in a child’s education is a great loss to the nation. If industries stop working for some months, maybe the loss can be compensated by working double shifts. But I have not seen a plant which withers due to lack of timely supply of nutrients and water revive when double the quantity is dumped at a later stage; nor have I seen a malnourished child recover when overfed in a short duration to make up for undernourishment.

When we know that disturbances are bound to occur in the academic calendars quite often for one reason or another, in one region or another, why have we never thought of having alternate or substitute plans which truly work? Is our indifference to this area because of our misplaced confidence that strikes will not take place in democracies or our core negligence of the values of education? Education is like ‘lighting a lamp’ and not like ‘filling an empty pail’ is a quote we hear quite often. That is why the news headlines which tell about ‘completing the syllabus quickly’ dishearten me. So too , the action plan to be implemented to compensate the loss of teaching days, by making Sundays and holidays as working days, makes me wonder if we have not lost the true spirit and true purpose of teaching in our self-imposed rules on ‘instruction days’ to be met.

I wonder whose interest is at the core when students are asked to miss their holidays and Sundays. Learning can take place without teaching but teaching cannot take place without learning. By forcing students to attend classes without a break is like penalizing them for no fault of theirs; whose presence is seemingly more important to our educators ? When educational psychologists reiterate that the span of attention retention is very short, what do we expect to drill by forcing the students to be merely physically present? When we, as concerned knowledgeable adults, have shouldered the responsibility of educating them, can we not bend the rules for their benefit? Can’t the focus be on the core concept rather than on the ‘completion of the syllabus’ from A to Z?

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