Schools are not islands

Ramazan has begun. This month, our life may or may not change, but at least our routine changes. We suddenly face a new schedule, a new turn of the night and the day.

No I am not lecturing about `dos and don’ts’ of this months. I have nothing to add to the spiritual dividends of this month. Let’s see the subject from a material perspective. Rational – if material sounds inappropriate. We don’t mean to impose a religious code on people. No form of worship can be enforced in any free and civilized society. To fast or not fast is your choice. But there is something called sensitivity which asks for care – and that is what we miss.

Our schools function normally in this month and they should. Suspending the routine will not only be unrealistic but undesirable too. But a calibration is required to suit the occasion. The bare minimum our schools can do is to reschedule the internal exams, adjust school timings and take some pressure off the students. After all life goes beyond a classroom. If Ramzan is a consideration, (and if we accept it’s) it demands attention. Not as a religious injunction, but as a social obligation.

Schools are not islands. They operate in a system based on some traditions. Celebration is an evolutionary fact. Non-humans know no joy, but we are unfortunately human beings who need variety. Take religion as variety and give it the care it deserves. And this doesn’t apply to a specific community. All religious sensitivities have a value and all need be acknowledged.

The problem with our school system is typical. In the name of liberal education, we are becoming more parochial, more slavish – and in a sense – more uncivilized. To us respecting a religious sensitivity suddenly goes against our `secular’ principles. We submit we are not Taliban. We become apologetic for what we should have been confident about. We have some overzealous more-loyal-than-the-king brand educationists who mean business whatever the case. They conduct exams on Eid days so that they are remembered for their `commitment’. They behavev like machines and machines don’t understand any social non-sense.  

What do they want to prove? If doing it means competing with the West, then their ignorance is even more pathetic. They say we mean business.  See what they do in the West and how they mean business? Their approach to religion may or may not be spiritual, but their faith takes a social form. How they add colour to their life by celebrating festivals and celebrating to the full. A confident atheist celebrates Christmas and Easter with the same farvour as his fellow believer. Both have different perceptions of faith, but both share a sprit, a value, a mutual respect for each other. It’s not a battle to prove or disprove God or Jesus. It’s a simple socio-cultural function they understand in its context. But here our performance is based on the points we score on a secular front. We forget that the real secular education takes care of religious sensibilities on a secular level.

By the way those we want to appease do it even more fiercely. See how everything changes on a Diwali or Holi. But we can’t spoil our report card by offering our students some relief in the month of fasting. Ramazan is just another month, Eid is just another day. After all we mean business.

Tailpiece:

A man attended his usual official duty even on the day of his wedding. A few extraordinary minds defined him as a `committed professional’. Others called him a fool.