Weekly Musings Father Of Man : Shyam K.C.

William Wordsworth’s line “The Child is the Father of Man” is understood in many ways by different people who interpret the line in their own philosophical way. When we were doing William Wordsworth (The Romantic Period poet) in our university days, I understood the line meant that the future of a person depended on how a child is brought up and in what kind of social environment he or she grows up to attain manhood or womanhood.

In those days, we were talking about individuals, some of whom may be led astray, forgetting all of one’s responsibilities and duties. But now in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated the country, the children of this nation are indeed the ones who will have to shape the future. So it is only natural that the children should receive undivided attention of the state as well as parents and guardians.

Educational institutions

The earthquake has disrupted the smooth running of the educational institutions. Educational institutions are the ones that really shape the nation by giving the country the real architects who not only build houses, dams, roads and other physical infrastructure needed for the country but also, more importantly, guide the country and the people on the right path.

The quake dwelt a stunning blow to the smooth running of educational institutes that produce the needed qualified and dedicated manpower for the country. The long disruption of education to students, especially school children, will have a negative impact on the future of the country. Unless the academic time loss inflicted by the quake is recouped one way or the other, the loss to the nation will indeed be huge. The authorities, therefore,  have rightly decided to resume school from last Sunday as the school children cannot be allowed to remain idle.

However, there are many questions that crop up, including how the classes will be conducted and whether parents and guardians will allow their children to go to the classrooms that are unsafe.  Then there is the problem of the children’s emotional adjustment to the post-earthquake situation, especially when the aftershocks continue to be recorded and felt by the people.

Emotional adjustment, including proper counseling, of the children in today’s world is essential.  (Such a measure was not possible in the post 1934-earthquake Nepal because it lacked qualified personnel.)  May be even today, the country does not have enough qualified counselors to meet the needs, but then educated parents and guardians could do the rudimentary work. What is needed is to take the children away from the fear-phobia so that they are able to lead normal lives in the future and thereby contribute in their small or big way towards the development of the country.

The fear and reluctance of the parents and guardians to send their children to school and other educational institutions can easily be understood. Many public and private school buildings, it is reported, are in a bad shape and unfit to run classes. So what are the authorities going to do to ensure that the students lose as little time as possible? One sure solution is to run classes in the open where feasible and to put up temporary sheds where classes cannot be run in the open. In both cases, it will be possible only when there is open space near or around the school buildings.

And herein lies the unforgivable lapse on the part of the government authorities in the past.  The mushrooming of private schools and colleges as well as public ones should have been a well thought out and planned action. Permits for opening schools were given out almost freely without considering where such institutions were to be located and whether such locations have enough open space for students to play in the open. For education does not mean mere academic learning but also enabling the students to participate fully in extracurricular activities, including open air activities that will prepare them to face any future eventualities in a capable manner.

Unless the authorities have other means to make up for the loss suffered by the students due to the quake devastation, the authorities are right in resuming educational institutions from Sunday.  Other alternative means could mean curtailing of holidays like Dashain and Tihar as well as winter holidays. But what is really important, is to ensure that the students do not lose their continuity in education as well as their camaraderie and teamwork. Their loss is the country’s loss for after all, the children are the parents of the future.

Ensure adequate open space

At the same time, the Education Ministry must ensure that in the future, both public and private educational institutions are located in areas that have adequate open space to cater to the playing and recreational needs of students. That is the least any government can do for the father (and mother) of the man (and woman); and, therefore, for the good of this country.

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