Why To Apologize To Your Kid

Parenting involves tasks: planned/unplanned, routine/one-off, joyous/miserable, silly/mature. No task is lesser than the other or more important than the one up next. However, some of the tasks never get the attention they deserve from the parents. One such task: Apologize To Your Kid.

One might feel there is something wrong here. The child has to learn to apologize (this is an acceptable topic in parenting discussions). After all, the kids are always up to something that they should not be doing. The kids have every reason to apologize though they won’t. Saying sorry and owning up needs to be taught to kids and can be spoken about by parents.

But, a parent has to apologize! That too, to the child!! One’s own child!!!

Parents Make Mistakes, Too

The basic tenet: Humans make mistakes. When humans falter, they own up and express regret. Now, it so happens that parents are humans too. If humans can make mistakes, so can parents. If humans should/are expected to apologize, why not parents? Why would apologizing to one’s kid be a taboo subject?

The issue seems to be with popular culture. Somehow, somewhere, the thinking that has taken roots is that the parents do not make mistakes when it comes to their children. The parents have the best interests of their children in mind and actions, so whatever they do/don’t do has to be/is fine. The parents are next only to Gods, rather even more than Gods, for they are living Gods.

Well, parents, as mortals, can end up taking out their frustrations at their children for no fault of theirs. The child could make a tiny mistake, but end up hearing an earful because the parent had a bad day at the office.  Or even worse, the child did not do anything wrong but he/she was the only one the parent could take it out on.

The kid wants quality time and attention from the parents, but they are into their screen time. The child wants to voice/share his/her feelings/aspirations, the parents are busy with their rat-race/lives. Or, the parent is actually trying hard to do some good/worthwhile for the child, but the child has some other ideas.

At the best of times, even if the intention is right, the execution can go horribly wrong. And at times, even the so-called right intention gets misplaced/mistimed/misdirected. The parents can get it wrong – transactional/strategic/behavioural/plain bad luck. Who’s the adult in all these? Who has to own up? Why invoke notions of parents as holier-than-thou?

Doesn’t the child deserve an apology?

Change The Narrative

The social/professional life requires an adult to own up if he/she has goofed up. Yes, high and mighty, powerful and influential, gets away without owning up. Somehow, the parenting seems to mirror this real-life scenario. The child can be intimidated, is helpless to snap and vulnerable to be taken for a ride without a helmet. In short, no apologizing required by the parent.

Do we see examples of a public apology by parents to their children? Do we get to hear about private apology by parents to their children? Leave aside public/private apologies, have we known about our grandparents apologizing to our parents? Most importantly, have we ever been apologized to by our own parents? A resounding No. There is no precedence of a parent apologize to his/her kid.

Come on, he/she is just a child. The kid won’t even remember tomorrow what happened today. My parents did not apologize to me and I turned out fine. What’s the fuss? Well, the child has the full range of emotions and does have a strong memory than he/she gets credit for. Moreover, isn’t there that tiny reminiscence wherein you feel your parents could have done better?

In nutshell, the chequered past/misplaced notions cannot be the reason for junking an upright behaviour. If a certain aspect needs a change in thought and application, so be it. The logic that it has not been challenged till now so it’s fine, is outrightly flawed and makes us Neanderthal. Lack of sensitivity on parental apology to children is a sure-shot candidate for this distinction.

Apologize To Your Kid

Parents feel that they have every right to an apology from their children. They might as well learn to give one back – an honest regret.

Parents try hard to make their children decent human beings. They might as well accept that they too are humans enough to make a mistake when it comes to their children and raise a hand to it.

Parents want to teach owning up and saying sorry to their children. They might as well walk the talk by owning up and saying sorry themselves to their children.

It is a fundamental right of a child to receive an apology from the parent, as and when the parent – the human screws up. (Coming Next – How To Apologize To Your Kid).

What’s your say?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Entrance Exams Bypass Childhood To Adulthood Rat Race

These days, the conversation about the kids starts with the only question: “Which School?” We answer that our six-year-old twin daughters do not go to school because they are children. Invariably, regardless of the background of the person, the second question tossed to us has been “But then what about the entrance exams?”

The follow-up questions could have been raised about their learning, education, exposure, interactions, experiences etc for they do not go to school. We, parents, could have been grilled about our thinking and approach for not sending our daughters to school. However, none of these queries gets raised. The second question has always been about the entrance exams.

I don’t get this, at all. Why should anyone raise a question about an event that is a decade down the line? That too, with an air of certainty that the said event is a must-happen occurrence which the child should/must/ has to compulsorily get through. Why the rush? What’s the hurry? Why the unreserved single-minded focus and dedication for entrance exams?

Entrance Exams Are The Reality

I agree that the people who raise a concern about our six-years-old daughters’ lack of preparation for entrance exams have a valid point. In the Indian context, that’s the only point. It is true that unless for the entrance exams, the child does not seem to have a future in today’s India when s/he grows up to be an adult.

Be it the JEE/NEET/CAT/CLAT/CA/CS/IAS or whatever/wherever, there is no escaping the claws of the entrance exams. The private institutions, not to be left behind, have entrance exams of their own. The Institutes of Eminence need to be Eminent. So, how do they go about it? Entrance exams, of course (if only, the world rankings were based on the number of students taking the entrance exams).

There is nothing “New” in the New Education Policy (NEP) to make tomorrow’s India any different from today vis-à-vis entrance exams. When there is no alternative, when there is no notion of a substitute, what really is left to be done? Fall in line and fight it out for the endangered seats. It is a dog-eat-dog world when it comes to college admissions – public/private, JNU/Amity, even fly-by-night!!

All these mean that as soon as a child is born, s/he starts getting wired to be prepared for the impending entrance exams. That’s what the “well-meaning” people ask us when we tell that our children do not go to school. Just that the meaning remains limited to the future of the child decade from today and not today per se. What’s the fuss about childhood?

The Double-Standard Adults

Ask any adult. What’s the life-stage they would want to re-live? What are the memories they cherish? The answer will be childhood. There is a distinct possibility that an adult of today might have an abused childhood. In this case, re-draft the question: What’s the life-stage they would want to re-live “better”? The answer, again, will be childhood.

Today’s adult (parents and grand-parents included) attaches utmost importance to his/her by-gone childhood. But, the same adult has scant regard for the childhood of his/her children. S/he cannot think beyond the entrance exams. What else?

Ask any adult. What do you think where would you be a decade from today? Please list out the sacrifices for today basis the deliverables to your family in future. For example, save on your OTT subscriptions so that the child’s future can be invested in. A realistic question: What’s the contingency plan should you lose your job/vocation? In all probability, the said adult will laugh/scream out.

The adult that cannot plan for his/her future, essentially no thoughts or at best, some hazy ideas, has already thought through the child’s future and put into action. Entrance exams. What else?

As adults, we say that we prioritize creativity, fresh ideas, out-of-box thinking (I would have used more jargons, but I left the corporate job 4 years back). We say that individuality matters. What’s more, we want our child to be unique, just like us!! To back the pretending parents, the schools, with assembly lines (pun intended), promises to churn out exceptional and exclusively chiselled, only one of its kind, child!!

So, how do adults/schools go about this project of raising/schooling a “distinctive/innovative” child?

Common Entrance Exams for all the children, with not a single child left behind. Mission Accomplished.

The Missed Childhood

It is the sign of the dysfunctional and dystopian society wherein the success of the individual gets decided as early as the coding taught to a six-year-olds. What if STEM learning does not teach a child problem-solving skills? How will a child cope unless s/he is skilled and qualified to excel in the future entrance exams?

We are almost made to believe that if our children are not prepared for the entrance exams, we are doing a disservice to them. We are robbing them of their chance to have productive adulthood and setting them up for a failed future. Fair point.

I have not been able to raise a counterpoint that the child who is being groomed for entrance exams, throughout the childhood, can/might raise a minor query sometime in life that s/he was robbed of his/her growing up years. Won’t a childhood endowed with stress-free play and learning, along with, lead to a better chance of being a well-grounded adult? Isn’t this a fair point, as well?

What’s your view about the fait accompli of entrance exams on children’s formative years?

Even Without COVID-19, Schools May Not Open In India

There are many things in life that go beyond logic and common sense. In India, we have one such event unfolding right now. Schools were shut down in March 2020 as a precautionary measure for COVID-19. Now, though it has become crystal clear that India has a sole distinction, in the entire world, of a single wave of COVID-19, with the peak coming 5 months back, schools continue to remain closed even now. It seems that even without COVID-19, schools may not open in India.

I know that schools will surely open, sometime in future. However, why the schools remain closed, as on date, is beyond me. Even more baffling is the complete silence of all the stake-holders on the continued closure of schools. Everyone is aware that everything is open in India but the schools and THAT is acceptable to all. No discussion, no questions raised, utter conformity.

What could be the reasons for this fact-of-life behaviour?

The Indian Government

Ministry of Education should be renamed Ministry of Examinations. This one statement shows the sole priority of the Indian Government. It has come up with guidelines and guidelines to open schools; and no action when the schools do not open.

The Indian Government seems to think that if anything goes wrong in the case of children, the Indian electorate will be unforgiving. Why take the unnecessary risk of getting into action mode? Anyways, the priority of Indian parents is NEET/JEE, so we shall conduct that, nonetheless. Rest is business as usual, rather no business at all.

The Indian Parents

There is no discussion on whether online education is delivering, the child is learning, all the children are benefiting – why bother? What matters is that our children go on to the next grade at the end of the year. Across the spectrum of Indian economic and social order, this seems to be the only driving factor.

The Private Schools

2020 might, in fact, turn out to be the most profitable year in history. Collect the fees from the parents. Dock the salaries of the teachers. Remove the support staff. Bare minimum establishment costs. Why bother about the Government protocols to open the schools when the charade of online learning has such a huge payback?

At worst, 5-10% of the parents will be unable to pay the fees. Rest all of them will, of course, pay. Which Indian parent can suffer the ignominy of the school admission of his/her child revoked?

The Government Schools

Even before COVID-19, Pratham ASER surveys showed the dismal learning outcomes of the Government schools. Why bother needlessly during the pandemic, or even after? Rather at all.

The Government School Teachers

The salary continues to get paid, regardless. What’s the nuisance going on about student’s learning?

The Private School Teachers

The threat from the school management of dismissal from the job looms large. Better to remain silent, take the salary whatever is getting paid and get on with the job of online teaching. Anyways, distant-teaching is not any different than in-person teaching. It was a monologue then, it is a monologue now, with the extra benefit of no need to check on the student’s attention.

Moreover, some parents have opted for private tuitions, so the net income has increased. Let the school closure continue.

The Indian Media

The headline-hunters work best from the confines of the TV studio/newsrooms. Reporting from the ground-up is long forgotten. The press releases, the politician’s quotes, tweets are the news.

What’s the fuss about school opening or closures? It is not a newsworthy item. Forget it.

The Indian Society

Once the children are enrolled in schools, they are learning, whether it is in school or online. The school report card at the end of the year is the holy truth, rest all is a myth. So, no questions asked.

Actually, when we were in school ourselves, we were taught to toe the line and not ask questions. It holds us in good stead even now. See for yourself.

The Social Scientists/Experts/Researchers

Getting into the cross-hairs of the mighty Indian Government and the equally powerful school lobby is a taboo. Repeat after me, whatever they do is right.

The Children

Online learning is no fun. For that matter, even the schools were no fun either. Cannot figure out what is worse. Anyways, let me continue my screen time. It is educational, everybody agrees now.

Why would not schools open?

I know the situation is not bad as I have made it out to be. There are lots of diligent teachers and hard-working students that are trying their level best to ensure the efficacy of online learning. I do not mean any disrespect to them. But, it is a different matter for the other actors mentioned above.

If the opening of schools is such a big pain-point, why not prioritize teachers and the support staff in vaccination? We do not do that also, and will not open schools also. There doesn’t seem to be a perceptible difference with schools closed that warrants urgency/an action plan.

Why would you think the schools have STILL not opened in India, with COVID-19 vanishing in a single wave and the approval of Covishield and Covaxin?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Ministry of Education Should Be Renamed Ministry of Examinations

Recently, Ministry of Human Resource Development was renamed Ministry of Education by Government of India. A well-meaning gesture, one would say. A long-winding name, hard to decipher, gets replaced by a sweet and short one. The new name connotes the priority and objective of the department – what it upholds and works for. However, basis the actual actions of the department, I propose to rename it as Ministry of Examinations.

Under normal circumstances, actions of a Government department do not come to a layman’s notice unless it does something truly path-breaking. But these are not regular conditions. This is the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. After the Ministry of Health, if there is one Ministry that would be of utmost importance to citizens – it is the Ministry of Education.

It is the actions during this pandemic that signifies what the Ministry stands for and acts for. This is the time when the students need help, the parents need support for their children, the schools and colleges need back-up aid. Ministry of Education could have taken steps to justify and come true to its new name. It could have been the supreme champion of Indian education and become the most celebrated Ministry in the Government.

In reality, what has been the Ministry up to?

Guidelines and Guidelines and Examinations

Ministry of Education has released umpteen guidelines on online education. There is no follow-up on the efficacy, students left out, execution by the schools etc. The Ministry claimed to circulate a number of online modules for teaching. Again no data on how many students, teachers and schools actually benefitted, the reach etc.

Once the pandemic started to subside, the Ministry released guidelines on reopening of schools and colleges. Post the guidelines, the Ministry went into hibernation with no report on whether the States are following the directions. As on date, few schools and colleges have opened in bits and pieces or they are going to reopen now.

What happens to students left out by online education/unable to cope with the demands of screen-only learning? What about parents that are unable to pay the fees? How about the schools and colleges that do not have the bandwidth for online classes/reopening protocols? What about the well-being of teachers in private schools?

No answers. No ownership. Now, compare this with the self-righteous zeal for JEE/NEET/final-year college exams.

At that point of time, COVID-19 had just about started to recede, but the exams were held nonetheless. There were a big hue and cry by the students and the parents, but ultimately in the dog-eat-dog world of ultra-competitive entrance exams, they had to fall in line.

Though, nothing much has happened post the first-year admissions in engineering/medical colleges. That’s fine. Entrance examinations were mandatory. Final year college exams were a charade and after the graduation, students have few jobs on offer. That’s fine. Final year examinations were mandatory.

What’s the learning from the above-mentioned real-life actions by the Ministry? Mention the word Examinations and the Ministry swings into action. Else, it is the case of some guidelines here and there followed by a prolonged slumber.

No Alternative To Examinations

Indian education is infamous for the single-minded focus on rote learning that can be evaluated only by writing exams. Ministry of Education, coinciding with the name change, released the New Education Policy (NEP). However in that too, the focus on examinations has not got diluted any bit. Apart from the dreadful suggestion of primary education in mother tongue, it has nothing new to offer, least on exams.

The students are told to think out of the box, re-imagine, re-invent and all such theory. However, when it is about coming up with an option to the rote fest, the Ministry is devoid of ideas. Leave aside coming up with an option, we are made to believe that there is no alternative at all.

In regular times, nobody would discuss discarding the fossilized notion of exams that we have. If even during this unprecedented times, we cannot let go of our perception that there is no alternative to the normal exams; what a new normal are we talking about?

To reduce the students’ stress, what has the Ministry done? Reduce the syllabus by 30% but it is the exams for the remaining 70% that will matter. The syllabus can be worked around, but not the exams. The Ministry has let known the priorities to all.

Ministry of Examinations, It Is

All through the COVID-19 pandemic, what have been the maximum interactions of Honourable Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal about? Announcing the examination dates.

What did he speak about other than exams? I have not come across anything. If you get to know, please do share. His Ministry and his good self know nothing other than the exams, exams and the exams. At least, that is what his and the Ministry’s actions show and prove.

In light of the above, I propose to rename the Ministry of Education as Ministry of Examinations.

What are your views on this subject?

PS: PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Primary Education In Mother Tongue: A Disservice To Indian Children

There are lot many things that do a disservice to Indian children. One among the top contenders is the misplaced zeal of promoting primary education in mother tongue. It affects not just the childhood but remains a handicap throughout the life of the child – affecting him/her in every sphere.

Once in a while, the issue of primary education in mother tongue will crop up. Each time, everybody but for the parent will speak in the favour of the mother tongue. Now, it is the turn of the New Education Policy (NEP) to re-start this debate. No prize for a correct guess about what NEP is promoting – primary education in mother tongue.

The purpose of education in India

Education serves multiple objectives. Few start right at the top – to know one’s potential and all such in philosophical realms. We, in India, have a rather straight-forward transactional view of education – get a better job/to improve prospects of a white-collar life/do better than the parents. In short, crack JEE/NEET, excel in a rote fest.

Now, with this two-word purpose of education – JEE/NEET, how and where does primary education in mother tongue fits in? The Central Government has proposed that entrance tests will be held in regional languages. Great. But, after getting admission what language will the medicine/engineering students study in? The Central Government has proposed that IITs will start teaching in Hindi. Even greater.

Now, come the ultimate questions. Will Google recruit an IIT engineer that has studied only in Hindi? Will Ivy League universities abroad give additional marks to the students of the vernacular? Would medical fraternity worldwide (even an Indian pharmaceutical company for that matter) open up the flood gates of opportunities for a doctor who prescribes only in a local language?

The single word answer for all the above questions is NO. Well, when there is no opportunity, apart from applying for a Government job, on what basis is the Government or for that matter all the so-called subject experts promoting primary education in mother tongue.

Everyone including the Supreme Court will pass the order that mother tongue is the best medium to teach a child. The irony of the situation is that this order would have been passed in English and the children of all these education experts would be highly deficient in communicating in their respective mother tongues. A bunch of hypocrites.

Parents know better

Wouldn’t the parents know that their children will learn better in mother tongue? Intentionally, no parent would want to put their children in a disadvantageous position of learning in a foreign language. Nobody would want to dole inferior treatment to their mother tongue. Yet, every parent in India wants their children to study in English medium school. Why?

What do parents see all around them in society? Persons with English background cornering all the privileged and coveted positions, considered in better esteem, have a better chance to rise in economic and social hierarchy etc. Why would any parent not want a similar profile for their children?

So, what do parents do? Enrol the child ASAP in an English medium school, running away from the promised misery of the vernacular school. Why blame them? They are only trying to try their luck at the perverse incentives laid down by a dysfunctional society that looks down at people who studied in their mother tongue.

Yes, some exceptions have excelled and reached newer heights even by studying in the local language. But that is what they are – an exception. And, after reaching their top positions, no prizes for guessing what language will their children be studying in. Nobody would want to be an exception to the norm, but the norm.

The ship of primary education in mother tongue has sailed

If there was a time for promoting regional languages of India, it was right after 1947. The first decade of Independence, maybe the second decade, but after that with each passing year, it is becoming only an uphill task of promoting the vernacular. Now, it is impossible, if not next to impossible, to imbibe primary education in mother tongue.

The politicians screwed up India’s language policy after Independence. The Indian language experts aided them in the destruction of the local languages by being prude, self-absorbed, lacking innovation and refusing to change with times. What do you call “internet”, “computer”, “mobile” in any of the Indian languages? There lies the answer to why Indian parents choose English as the medium of instruction for their children.

It is better if we, as a country, admit our folly and let go of our notion that primary education in mother tongue is good for the child. It is surely good for the child, but for the adult that the child will grow into, it is a sure-shot recipe for disaster.

The constructive option would be to adapt and adopt Indian English as our own language. The sooner it happens, more useful for Indian children, more beneficial for India, more practical than continuing with this time-wasting pointless debate raised by an out-of-sync with the times’ NEP.

What would be your views on this subject?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Indian English Should Be Taught To Indian Children

‘English is a funny language’, this is an oft-repeated quote whenever my daughters study English with me. As a matter of fact, there is nothing funny about the language. It is just that the English language transcends logic and common sense when it comes to pronunciation, spellings, grammar and whatnot. This makes me propose that Indian English should be taught to Indian children.

I suppose all of us have learnt our English in schools. At that age, we would not have been able to ponder over the absurdities of what we are being taught by our English teachers. And, the teachers are in the profession of teaching what they are taught to teach. So, the saga of the Queen’s English keeps perpetuating, no matter how silly and ridiculous.

The Unscientific Language

How does one teach English to Indian children? LSRW is all hogwash. Except for an extremely tiny minority, children do not get to listen and speak English as their first step to learning this language. So, the phonetics makes an entry with alphabet identification, writing and reading, in that order. So far, so good. Now, slowly the eccentricities of the Queen’s English will start showing its tentacles.

The pronunciation of “C” will keep changing as per the whim and fancy. “G” will follow suit immediately. “I” and “E” are enough to drive a sane person crazy. “Y” and “O” decide to join the fun. Try teaching the spelling of “Two”, “To”, “Too” / “Four”, “For” scientifically to the child. How about “One” or “Eight” for that matter? We haven’t even reached the silent alphabets, homonyms, “Cough/Dough” etc.

You will say that English is not a 100% phonetic language. Everyone knows it. What’s the big deal? Well, it is not a big deal as an adult. Try telling it to children – Indian children. Our mother tongues i.e. Indian languages are all nearly 100% phonetic (most letters are consistently pronounced). Comparatively, English is only about 75% phonetic.

Why should Indian children be subjected to the strange and senseless way of learning a language in their growing years? Why cannot we make it simple and easy for Indian children to learn English by just following the phonetics? Speak and read as is written, and write as is spoken and read.

This is the big deal.

Adapt and Adopt Indian English

The educationists and prudes will scoff at the idea of any changes in Queen’s English. First and foremost, they will claim that there is no need to change. It will be termed as an un-wise and un-called for. It will be said that any change in English will be detrimental to the prospects of Indians, as we will end up being the only ones with the changed pronunciations, spellings, grammar etc.

Today, who would be the largest mass of people using English globally? We, Indians. If we are the biggest users, why cannot we make it to our liking and preferences? There is, at least, one more version of English doing the rounds – there is English (UK) and there is English (American). Why cannot we have English (Indian)?

We use every kind of Hinglish words while speaking. All sort of spellings and short forms are a part and parcel of our social media communications. But, when it comes to teaching to our children, we bow our heads to Queen’s English. Why should that be?

How many Indian children are going to read classical literature of the variety written by English-born writers? If Indian children go abroad for further education or work in call-centres, the only two instances wherein the Queen’s English might be required, they are more than capable of learning the different version.

The only issue to Indianizing English is that each region of India will claim to have its own pronunciation, spelling and grammar rules. To be honest, even this is fine. India is a diverse country and each region should have a say in what is taught to their children. The Indian educationists can put up a broad list of changes within which each region can pick and choose.

Focus On Indian Children

As an adult, we accept and live by the norms and the traditions that we are taught in our childhood. We do not question the practice and the routine assuming that this is how things happened in the past, take place in the present and will keep occurring in future. There is no need to suspect or mistrust the obvious. Our needless and foolish deference to British English falls in this category.

It is a hellish experience for Indian children to learn English in its current format. Simply put, it is stupid. Teaching Indian English will make the lives of our children easy and learning enjoyable. Plural of a ship is ships, but the plural of sheep is sheep. There is no fun in telling a child that English is a funny language.

The sooner we have Indian English, better for Indian children, better for India.

What would be your views on this subject?

Please do not start the primary education in mother tongue debate; it is even a bigger disservice to Indian children.

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Reopening Of Schools Is The Final Frontier In India’s COVID-19 Unlock

Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal, announced on 10th August 2020 that there shall be no zero academic year for Indian students. However, he did not divulge any detail/plan for the reopening of schools. The Central Government covered all the sectors in COVID-19 Unlock but did not make a single statement about the reopening of schools – how and when, the nitty-gritty details.

Finally, on 5th October 2020, almost 2 months after the Minister’s proclamation, Union Education Ministry issued guidelines about the reopening of schools. Given the high stakes of the learning and education for the nation’s future citizens, in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic, there were high expectations from the Government.

A parent would expect that the Government will take concrete steps in creating a safe and protected environment for the country’s children when they resume their physical schooling. A parent would expect that the guidelines will evoke trust and conviction about sending their wards to schools. In short, parents expected an assurance that their children shall receive the utmost care and caution.

So, what do the guidelines convey?

Only Exams Matter

As per the guidelines, students can attend schools only with the written consent of parents. This is brilliant, outright exceptional. With the COVID-19 cases at its peak, this is the same Government that pushed the students to give JEE and NEET entrance exams. The students protested, the parents objected but the Government would have none of it.

The Government made noises about the future of students at stake. The Supreme Court concurred. Why did the thought of “parental consent” not occur to the Government for these entrance exams? How are schools and exams different to warrant dissimilar treatment? How can the Government have different yard-sticks for similar contexts?

The Government might say that exams are one-off and schools are daily. So, does it imply that one-off exam/stress/travel/risk does not entail parental concern? Does it mean that parents do not bother/care for the well-being of their children when they go out to give exams?

In short, the Government considers itself empowered to take decisions on behalf of parents and students for entrance exams. However, when it comes to daily attendance in schools, it brings up the charade of “parental consent” being supreme.

Is this hypocrisy/incoherence or a simple fact that it is only the entrance exams that matter in the Indian educational system, the rest is optional. In this case, “parental consent” is not a guideline at all, it is a pretence. Irrespective of a student attending the school or not, s/he will be forced to give NEET and JEE, next year.

The Central Government Would Not Take Any Responsibility

For every Unlock measure, the Central Government has been the final authority. It decides, announces and ensures that everyone, including the opposition-led States follow the suit. However, when it has boiled down to the reopening of schools, surprise, surprise, it has left the final decision to the respective State Governments. It is a bit more than the sovereignty of exams that is driving the Central Government in its decision-making of reopening of schools.

This is the authoritarian Government of a one-man show. It does not trust any meaningful decision-making to even his Cabinet Ministers. It leaves no stone unturned to make everyone fall in line for its one size fits all approach. And, now suddenly, this control freak Government cedes control of the decision on reopening of schools. What’s going on?

Have you gone through the guidelines on the reopening of schools? None of them, repeat, none of them has any deliverable listed against the name of the Central Government. Apart from handing down far-fetched and absurd directives, it does not have any other tasks. No responsibility, no onus, no accountability.

The Central Government seems to have learnt from its utter failure of dealing with migrant workers’ plight during the lock-down. It has understood that it has no clue about the ground situation and it has no bandwidth to influence the outcome/solution of the problem. Better to stay away. This is showing up in the most unlikely field: reopening of schools.

If anything goes wrong, which it might as well, why to come in the firing line of parents? Why bear the brunt of the irate parents? Leave everything to the States and schools. In case of an outbreak, play the blame-game of not adhering to the guidelines, which are beyond anyone to follow.

Reopening of schools is the final frontier

In nutshell, all of us know that Indians will bear all the pain when it comes to their progeny. We live and die to better the prospects of our offspring. There is no wrath worse than that of the offended parent. So, better not deal with them for a problem that you cannot solve but can only theorize. Yes, the promise of a career of an engineer/doctor matter even more, so entrance tests are acceptable.

Nobody knows this better than Narendra Modi. Hence, reopening of schools is and shall remain the final frontier in India’s COVID-19 Unlock; no matter everything else has been unlocked.

Just that, this is neither going to help the future of Indian children in any manner by impacting their learning and education in a positive manner nor the state of the Indian economy.

Will anyone take the responsibility of educating India’s children, equitably and fairly, by owning up reopening of schools?