Project 7 – Safeer Aziz

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CHILDREN: LET THEM BE NATURAL

A neice of mine, just 6 years old, moved in to Abudhabi from Kerala. After a couple of weeks at her posh flat, she started shouting now and then, ‘Please help me, please save me from this jail’. For her the flat was a jail even though it had all luxury facilities, because she had experienced the joy of freedom in Kerala.

Contest chairperson, respected Judges, dear Toastmasters and welcome guests, a very good evening to all of you. I told this incident just to inform you that kids growing up in this part of the world are deprived of many valuable lessons of life and very often take too many things for granted.

The first and foremost thing they miss is freedom. Most of the time the kids in this part of the world are within closed doors. Even if they go out for some games, they immediately return to the cool confines of the air conditioners. Our kids never get the luxury of experiencing the joys of freedom, and hence feel that this is the best they can get. They spent most of their time with the television or computers. They see life only through the media; their characters are influenced by what they see on the screens; they model their lives based on fictitious characters and most of the time live in a world far away from reality.

Lack of freedom also effects the standard of education. Their practical knowledge compared to the kids growing up in India or elsewhere is as good as zero. A professor at a prestigious college in Tamilnadu put it in perspective. He said that the NRI students in his college always lag behind others in the curricular as well as extra curricular activities. The others mentioned here are not the elite students who always come first in studies. They also come from rich families with luxurious life styles and paid heavy capitation fees to gain admission. But they have the advantage of living and learning in an open environment, where you have to fight for your chances. In contrast what can you learn here, as my nephew said, where there dont even have an autorikshaw.

Another thing that the kid’s out here are deprived of is the sight of pain: due to poverty or due to the death. We give them a dozen pencils when they need only one. They are always protected from the difficulties in life. And neither do they see others who are suffering. They don’t see anybody crying out of pain. The only tears they see are their own, which they shed to make the parents buy a new version of their favourite game or latest designer dresses from top fashion houses. My wife, born and brought up in Dubai, had not attended a funeral all her life and so she never got a chance to see and experience the pain associated with the departure of a near soul. By missing out on these things, our children don’t get an opportunity to learn the value of life or rather the value of friends and relatives that they normally take for granted.

Having said all this, I would like to ask who is responsible for this? The responsibility, I would say, is solely ours. We are the ones who think that we are providing all facilities to our kids, when we are actually locking them up inside four walls. We are the ones who force the teachers to spoon feed our children so that they’ll score well in exams, when they ought to be left alone to learn by themselves. As a teacher at a local school put it, we spent lots of money for the education of our children, so we expect to see the results in the form of top ranks and very high marks.

Friends, leave our children, let them live naturally, let them go on their own and explore the natural world: not the world of luxury shopping malls and hi-tech game zones. Dont force them and their teachers to show good results on the report card when in reality their knowledge is poor. Give them a chance to share the pains of others, let them grow into good citizens of tomorrow so that we’ll have a better place to live.

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