Touria Prayag's Blog

l’Express Weekly, 9 September 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 27, 2012

Do as I say…

A highly successful businessman once found himself in the head teacher’s offi ce, trying to understand why his son was systematically stealing his classmates’ pens. Unable to understand, he exasperatedly asked the child, “ Why did you do this? If you needed pens, why didn’t you ask me? I would have brought you a whole box from the offi ce!” That our children are more likely to be infl uenced by what we do than what we say is nothing new . Every act, conscious or subconscious, that they are exposed to sends them messages and sometimes the messages we send are contradictory. Naturally, we all love our children and want them to develop the most positive values, attitudes and beliefs about themselves and the world they live in. However, the road to hell, they say, is paved with good intentions.

This lesson comes up every year as the lists of children who have been admitted to primary schools are published. This year, as in previous years, we have had Parent Teacher Associations complaining that once more, at least 50% of the pupils admitted to Star schools do not live in the area. We think this is a very conservative estimate but even assuming that it is the case, the verdict is absolutely shocking. At least one kid out of two will have seen his parents forge papers, lie through their teeth and use their infl uence to get their names on the coveted lists. These children will also have been told that they should not, under any circumstances, tell anyone where they live. They should, in other words, lie. The messages sent to the kids are clear and my concern is that our children will pick up those less- than- admirable messages and make them their own. Before long, these messages will squash the kid’s playfulness and spontaneity, not to mention his respect for the truth.

Is it any wonder then that some of these children grow up with a sense of entitlement? Does it surprise anyone that the values we are transmitting to our children teach them that they are allowed to get whatever they want, not through their own merit and hard work but through forgery and abuse of infl uence? These are the children who, most of the time, grow up jumping queues and using the wrong lane in traffi c to push in right in front of you and rob you of your right of way. As colleagues, these are the children who make the work atmosphere so unpleasant because they were not taught the difference between what is right and what is wrong.

This is, unfortunately, not only an indictment on parenting but on society as a whole. For, there is no one, from the minister of education to our MPs, who is unaware of this situation. Yet, when it comes to education, you will hear questions in the National Assembly about all sorts of issues ranging from truancy to absenteeism in the third term, politically correct issues that is, being raised. An inordinate amount of time is devoted to these. You will hear condemnation from all sides.

Well, the list was put up this week. Newspapers have fl agged the issues.

Parliament will sit again in a few weeks but don’t raise your hopes too high.

No one will waste their time on this. Those whose children have got to the schools they have no right to be in, at the expense of other children who live in the area but had to be sent away to lesser schools because they are not politically connected or their parents play by the rules, can continue to sleep in peace. Nothing is likely to disturb them.

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