Schools or concentration camps?

Today's Bengaluru edition of the Times of India proudly bears a story on the front page which must offer sufficient reason to mourn the death of reason and fear the coming of doomsday in the education sector as applicable to parents who care for the future of their children: "Now, a pre-school for 8-month-olds".

This whole scam illustrates, in my mind, two things: one, that misguided businesses can stoop to any level to break up society into individual units and consume those units in furtherance of their self-interest; and two, that the craze for stuffing English into Indian infants is eating away their childhood, natural familial and societal bonding, and playfulness, and turning them into automatons at the mercy of the misguided businessman who can at best create dubious educational results.

Individualize and reap (a.k.a. divide and rule)
The first fact is well understood by economists: the more the number of unconnected individuals, the larger the market for the devices of businessmen. And here, these so-called schools are illustrating how low they can stoop to create those individuals at any cost: they now want to turn infants who were umblically connected to their mothers a few months back, into those unconnected individuals fit for business consumption.

I have no doubt that, if these businessmen were to have their say, they'd snatch away newborn infants suckling milk from their mother's breasts, promising that they'll take care of the entire development and education of the child for a few lakh rupees.

Urban children have already been separated from their grand-parents who do not speak English, and now it's the turn of snatching them away from their parents themselves! I won't be surprised if in a few years I see a news item in the Times of India which talks about a "scientific study" which "proves" that Indian children who have been taken away by education-businesses at childbirth read and write English better than those who haven't had "that advantage". It's the next logical thing.

Craze of English consumes childhood
The second fact is not very well known, and I'd like to present it to concerned parents. While it is true that the first six years of a child are very important in its life, and that the child must have learnt reading and writing by that time, it is not true that that reading and writing must be in English.

In fact, it is a crime against children to stuff a foreign language into their heads, as many educationists and psychologists have pointed out. I don't think anybody harbors a doubt about the importance of mother-tongue education, but from the craze for English prevalent in our cities, it's clear that not many realize the harmful effects of foreign languages at young ages.

Now, you have English-crazy parents in cities on the one hand, and on the other hand the target of having children achieve proficiency in reading and writing by six years of age. If you put the two together, and add the fact that these parents have mostly Kannada for their mother-tongue, both the parents and these businesses have no option but to take away the first six years of children and offer them as sacrificial lambs at the feet of the demon of ignorance.

Kapil Sibal (not that he holds a justifiable portfolio), unless he realizes this fact, will have to see his genuine concern for the physical and mental health of young children go down the drain. His campaign for abolishing pre-schooling before 4 years of age makes no sense if you have to stuff reading and writing in a foreign language into children.

Parents will have to throng these concentration camps with not just 8-month-olds, but perhaps even newborn infants in order to stuff English into their innocent brains.

And that too will not suffice, since the womb would have been polluted by Kannada. It may help for the parents to just migrate to London or Manchester or New York or San Francisco before their first kiss. But that too would not solve the problem completely, because their lips would have been polluted by Kannada. What is to be done now?

While children are apt to learn crucial communication skills from the natural familial and societal interactions in the language of the family and society, the craze for English basically necessitates the creation of a family and a society which speaks English: and that's what these businesses try to artificially synthesize and fail miserably because of the sheer artificiality.

All this, at what cost? At the cost of completely removing those children from the family and society and placing them in totally artificial environments designed to mimic the environment of a London or a Manchester, and at the cost of sacrificing their natural freedoms, their childhood, and their physical and psychological health.

What a great future we're giving our urban children!


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