By Farooq Shah
The other day, a teenage girl surprised me with her strange yet surprising longing, “I wish someone would bomb and destroy this school.”
The class, oblivious of her agitated mind, burst into a loud laughter, and I, trying to conceal my astonishment, also joined in. As things settled down, she added, “I dislike the school atmosphere, and that includes certain teachers as well.”
It is not uncommon for teenagers to express strong emotions and opinions, and sometimes they do so in shocking or provocative ways. In most of the case, the pressure is usually built at home, and the vent expressed somewhere else.
While her expressed wish for the school to be “bombed to obliteration” may not be meant literally, it does indicate an underlying build-up of frustration in her life, particularly at this vulnerable age when her future success is significantly influenced by these crucial formative years.
Young girls, especially in their teen years are susceptible to various risks, including manipulative behaviour and exploitation. The rush of hormones during this period can be pretty tumultuous, affecting their thoughts and emotions. Their sudden rush into the bloodstream can disorient and push them into unchartered territories, directing their minds towards experiences they may not fully understand.
Young boys and adult men, often of different ages, may attempt to take advantage of this vulnerability. These individuals, who can be anyone from cousins, friends, school and tuition mates, teachers, to even uncles in the family, may try to lure and manipulate teenage girls into situations they have no idea about.
The essential question persists: do our schools possess adequate resources, both in terms of infrastructure and personnel, to compensate for the setbacks experienced by children in their homes? A significant portion of students in government schools, particularly up to grade 10, hail from families where either one or both parents are either completely illiterate or have limited literacy. Consequently, these children face challenges in addressing various issues and depend heavily on the school environment to find solace and joy in their lives.
In the absence of adequate guidance and counselling at home, many teenage girls encounter a pivotal juncture where decisions about their life direction become critical. This tumultuous stage significantly influences their future trajectory, and without proper support, they risk falling into unfavourable circumstances. The lack of guidance during this crucial period can leave these young individuals grappling with uncertainties, unsure of the path they should take. Invariably, without proper direction, there is a heightened vulnerability to negative influences and potential pitfalls.
A few months ago, a teenage girl student faced a distressing situation when the principal of her higher secondary school was ignominiously arrested, allegedly for molesting and harassing her. This unfortunate incident was part of a series of disheartening events that teenagers like her often encounter. The accusations encompassed various transgressions, including inappropriate phone calls and troubling leaks of conversations, highlighting the hardships faced by a teenager in need of guidance from mentors to successfully navigate the challenges of adolescence.
With a three-decade experience in education, I can assert authoritatively that there has been little evolution in terms of school infrastructure and the quality of trained personnel, thereby complicating the issue further. A notable percentage of government schools persist in operating from premises that do not align with the fundamental essence of effective teaching in the first place.
Many schools, particularly in rural areas, lack fundamental infrastructure such as restrooms, toilets, water access, and electricity, not to mention modern amenities like smart classrooms, internet connectivity, or audio-visual facilities. Furthermore, the crucial provision of sports facilities, essential for students to release their pent-up emotions, is notably absent.
Hands-on experiments in science subjects, once a cornerstone for cultivating a scientific mind-set among students, have been either partially or entirely excluded from the curriculum. Previously, students would keep a practical notebook, documenting their observations after conducting experiments related to scientific concepts. This form of education instilled confidence in students, enabling them to discern the difference between fiction and reality through their first-hand observations.
In absence of practical work, a student’s mind becomes ensnared in uncertainty, eroding the foundation of trust in the information gleaned solely from textbooks. It severs the tangible link between concepts and real-world application. The absence of hands-on experiences leaves a void, hindering the student’s ability to internalize and validate the knowledge acquired through traditional study methods.
The lack of trust deepens when science teachers instruct students to record a few experiments in their practical notebooks. The teacher then signs the title page, asserting that “All the experiments listed in this notebook have been performed by the student in my presence.” Adding to the deception, the head of the institution (HOI) countersigns this affirmation.
For a student, dealing with the persistent deception adopted by teachers and the head of the institution is a formidable challenge. This not only deepens the mistrust between students and teachers but also creates a profound void in students’ lives, leaving them with a perplexing question: who deserves their trust and who does not.
A congenial school atmosphere is important for the holistic upbringing of a teenage girl, offering a sanctuary that protects both her academic and personal growth. Retaining her from morning to evening ensures a continuum of educational experiences, allowing for a comprehensive curriculum, extracurricular activities, and a supportive community. A well-structured school day offers opportunities for skill development, experimentation, creativity, and exposure to diverse perspectives.
Schools should prioritize crucial elements to ensure a positive and secure atmosphere, cultivating an environment where students feel respected, valued, and safe. This proactive approach is essential to effectively deter any notions that might lead them to wish harm upon the school.
Otherwise, the lack of guidance, both at home and at school, delivers a double whammy, squandering a valuable life and producing a generation lacking moral and ethical principles. This scenario suggests that we may be nurturing individuals who navigate life without a solid ethical and moral foundation to steer them. Amidst this perplexity, both the home and school environments play equally destructive roles in eroding the moral and ethical fabric of our generations.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
- Author is an educationist and social media influencer. He can be reached at: [email protected]
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