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What kind of childhood is this?

  • Published at 12:02 am November 3rd, 2016
What kind of childhood is this?

The day I don’t go through my newspaper in the morning, I feel something missing. But, it makes me depressed to go through the newspaper nowadays, as I become a witness of the deterioration of our society.

However, last Thursday was different. The news of opening a toll–free helpline for children was like a ray of hope against the backdrop of increasing violence against children. It demands immediate attention from all of us.

Moreover, I would like to draw your attention to a silent violence against children, which is like a bulldozer crushing their childhood. Can you guess what it is?

Yes. It is none other than the schoolbag. It seems to me that guardians and educationists have become hysterical to over-educate children through textbooks and exams. Before preparing any curriculum, one must know and understand the aim of education, especially the education which is meant for children.

Does child and adolescent education aim simply at confining children to textbooks and exams, spending all day for it? Let’s see what some of the greatest influences of the world have said about education.

Rabindranath Tagore said: “Education enables the mind to find out the ultimate truth, which gives us the wealth of inner light and love; and gives significance to life.”

Aristotle said: “Education is the creation of sound mind in a sound body.” Herbert Spender said: “Education is complete living.”

Now, if we observe the daily lives of our children, we will see what harm we are causing to them in the name of educating them.

The day starts early in the morning, as classes at school begin by 8am. They cannot have their breakfast properly, as they are in a hurry to reach school on time.

Have you noticed your children lately? Are they happy, or frustrated? Are they living a healthy life?

Guardians give them quick-to-cook and easy-to-carry food like noodles, bread with butter or jelly, biscuits, boiled eggs, crisps, etc, as their breakfast. They eat it on their tiffin breaks around 10am. School ends by around 12pm for Bangla-medium schools, and around 2pm for English-medium schools.

After reaching home, they take bath, then have their meals, and then sit with their private tutors. Daylight fades away by the time coaching finishes. After taking a brief pause for evening prayers and snacks, they have to go back to their study desks and focus on homework.

They get respite from the tedious process of achieving good marks in exams around 10pm, and then have dinner and go to sleep, as they need to be re-charged for the next day.

But recreation is as important as other basic needs of life for human beings. So, ill-fated children go to sleep late at night, as they spend some time watching TV or surfing the internet, or playing video games.

Now, just think: Sleeping late at night while they have to wake up early, keeping an empty stomach for so many hours, and then taking unhealthy food as breakfast, no connection with nature, no play time, no physical activities, no leisure time to read, to think freely or ponder over anything or do creative work -- what kind of childhood is this?

Is it not violence against children, to compel them to lead such robotic, artificial, and suffocating lives? Is it not costing their physical and mental health?

It is high time we think over our children’s lifestyles seriously. Don’t forget the saying: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” If we don’t care for our children, they will not care for us -- it’s natural. Oishee was not born as a killer, our utter negligence towards our children is responsible for the crime she committed.

Have you noticed your children lately? Are they happy, or frustrated? Are they living a healthy life?

We should keep in mind that good human beings or peaceful societies do not appear by magic. We need to give it our conscious and sincere efforts to build it.

Monswita Bulbuli is a Sub-Editor at the Dhaka Tribune.