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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    July 19, 2004
     

    How did you express your sorrow, grief, anger or disgust at what happened in Saraswathi English Medium School, Kumbakonam last Friday? Some of you may have thrown the newspaper away in disgust, some of you may have shed a tear or two. Others would have said a silent prayer and admonished your favourite deity for what happened. I express my anger through these ramblings of mine.

    I was first alerted to the tragedy on Friday afternoon. I didn't find enough time to read reports in detail about the actual casualties. I couldn't catch anything on television because there was a cable tv operators strike. Eerily enough, the strike came after the electricity officials embarked on a drive to remove illegal cable tv wires dangling from the main electricity lines after a 7 year old boy died after being electrocuted by a dangling exposed wire.

    So, it was on Saturday morning when I managed to have a proper idea of what had transpired at Kumbakonam. Even as I was reading the reports, something struck me. When so many children had died, how come there was no report of any teacher having died in the fire? I got the answer shortly: the teachers had escaped unhurt leaving primary school children to their fate and the fury of the flames. It may be true that not all the teachers did this, there must have been some teachers who did their duty. The Hindu scriptures decree that the mother, father, teacher and guest are to be treated alike [Maatru devo bhava, Pitru devo bhava, Acharya devo bhava, Athithi devo bhava]. Truly, only those teachers who helped the children escape qualify. In fact they would have failed in their duty, not only as teachers but also as mothers or fathers, if they had taken the easiest way out of the inferno.

    The school authorities and the education department officials (at the district, state and central levels) cannot ecape the blame. The need to present a better picture of literacy levels forces them to setup schools with minimal infrastructure, poor student-teacher ratios, pathetic safety conditions and an overall callous attitude towards education. Parents send their students to any school which calls itself a government school or an English medium school without bothering about minor issues like the quality of teaching. Perhaps they dont have a choice. Hopefully [and I know I'm clutching at straws here] this tragedy forces all the stakeholders to look at how derelicted the system has become and take action to do the least they can and create a better education system for the future.

    Rambled @ 11:00 AM

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