Monday, October 30, 2006

Suicide Pledge in schools - Ethical?

In August (Article from Chennai Chronicle: MONDAY 28 AUGUST 2006 ) there was an article on the Chennai Chronicle on the 'necessity' of Suicide Pledges by children in school. This was a reaction to the increased number of suicides by children because of the increased and heavy workload of children, the cutthroat competitiveness in examinations and the pressure to perform.
The problem here is with the educational system but making children take suicide pledges - way off the limits.
Is this even ethical?

(Article from Chennai Chronicle: MONDAY 28 AUGUST 2006 )

Suicide Pledges, a must for schools

Our correspondent/ Chennai

Nearly 1000 students from the Adarsh Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School took pledge recently to not commit suicide. According to the school principal, Rama Krishnasayee, students from all city schools should be made aware of the fact that suicide is not the answer to their problems. She says, After the NSS students of our school took the pledge at the Royapettah General Hospital; they brought the initiatives to my notice. I believe it is stressful times for students everywhere. Whether they are upset about their marks, extra curricular activities or even peer pressure. They need to understand that stress can be dealt within the right way.
Though the pledge was in Tamil, the significance was explained to the students in great detail. She adds, “For students, stress is not just regarding academics, it is also the vice of the age. The school children have been very receptive and I hope they have understood how attempts at suicide can change their lives and how it can affect the ones they love.

The doctors of the Royapettah Hospital took this pledge on August 15, and have decided to spread their message from school to school.

According to Dr. Chandra Mohan, head of the gastroenterology department at Royapettah General Hospital, the main reason behind asking students to take this kind of pledge is to make them aware of the harm that it causes. “Most often students only attempt to commit suicide. When this happens the acid/substance tends to burn up their food pipe and this in turn affects their health. This is when living becomes dangerous,” he says. Most people believe that girls are weaker emotionally as compared to boys and therefore girls must be exposed to the issue of suicide. Says R.Vijayeta, an HR executive who had attempted to commit suicide when she was in school. “I took the drastic step when I could not express my feelings of distress to my parents. I was facing the same stress as many of the boys in my class were. Only I felt weaker.”

However, certain experts feel that taking pledge is not enough. Mr.Sudhakaran, vice chair person Dream foundation and a clinical psychologist says,” This initiative is very good concept as it will create awareness among the youngsters. But it is not practical in the long run. Youngsters commit suicide when they are helpless-it is an impulsive decision. Hence they should be taught how to handle the crisis and or the problem, instead of escaping it by committing suicide. If this is done, it will save many young lives. I think both girls and boys are equally capable of suicide, it is not that girls are emotionally weaker than boys or vice versa.”


sramanujam said...

It is the most disturbing and agonizing information that the school children are asked to pledge that they would not commit suicide. It is we who have formed the educational pattern; it is we who have accumulated all the so called knowledge and designed the text books and syllabus; it is we who have classified hundreds and hundreds of subjects and disciplines; it is we who have formed a system called examinations marks and results; it is we who classify the children as intelligent and dull based on the marks and results; it is we who are continuously exerting pressure on the tender and innocent children to get focused on marks; it is we who have complicated all the knowledge systems and dumped a great sack on the delicate shoulders of the children; it is we who have complicated all the lifestyles of the children; it is we who expose the innocent children to an ever competitive and corrupt world.
We claim that we wouldn’t do anything horrible to them without even giving a thought on the objective realities and without even making the slightest effort to understand our responsibilities and we demand that there should not be any reaction from them and we even go to the extent of getting an oath that they would not commit suicide.
We do not feel ashamed of our ignorance and obstinacy in understanding the true problems of our children and we do not even make introspection as to the true dependability and the intricacies in the formulation of the present educational pattern by totally ignoring their creativity, psychological structure, inherent spiritual and intuitive capabilities and very importantly their freedom; but on the other hand crudely playing with their weaknesses.
If we position ourselves in a higher plane of thought we would be confronted with the most startling facts that are nothing but the raw objective realities that mankind could never escape from facing, in the future not far from now.
The system of education has a great influence in the progress of civilization in mankind, the important and methodical application of different systems dates back to several millenniums in the human history.

When the primitive educational systems primarily focused on cultural evolution, propagation of religious doctrines and principles, synchronization of mind and behavior, protection of land and people, productivity based on agriculture, arms and ornaments and improvement of fitness of an individual towards environmental changes, the later developments started focusing more on productivity of various forms when science and technology induced its own influence in the practicalities of human activities.

When the trend slowly took a course of formation of a separate knowledge system based on observation, logical reasoning, deduction and experimentations as opposed with beliefs and religious faiths a thrust was felt throughout the world in the systematized understanding and utilization of nature and its resources, which was later called as science. Naturally this trend had its own influence in the educational systems in different parts of the world.

The earlier stages of this trend are called as the ‘period of enlightenment’ by certain historians and a number of great thinkers emerged to shape the educational systems. A great emphasis had been laid upon the roles of teachers and learners and the effectiveness of the interaction between them.

At this juncture the conventional educational systems, methods and practices were scrupulously analyzed and criticized in various dimensions towards progressive evolution of educational standards.

Different practical ideas and philosophy of educational theories were proposed and experimented in view of converting abstract concepts into practice that could be applied to every day life enabling the process of learning more diverse and participatory, at the same time with a widespread awareness of the necessity of education to fulfill and enrich the current lives of students as well as prepare them for the future.

This led way for organized focus on children by examining the capability of conception of numbers, quantities, space, logic, geometry, imaginations, physical reality, emotional response and moral judgments and also how the children develop their own cognitive or intellectual conceptions of reality by exploring the environment and judging the changes.

By the same time when the biological theory of evolution was getting a wider recognition and then applied on social changes, the general notion of ‘survival of the fittest’ individuals of each generation that was considered as a natural consequence of the then socio politico economical attitudes of the society towards producing intelligent and adaptable individuals through education.

As an eventuality of the pattern of education towards more individualism, unlimited competition was urged with the assumption that competition caused the brightest and strongest individuals to climb to the top of the society. This kind of thought process led way for formulating a curriculum featuring five basic activities that were perceived to be necessary for a student to make himself fit in the society.

1. Self-preservations such as health consciousness, diet, exercise for physical and mental stability.

2. Those needed for performing an occupation to earn a living with basic skills of language and communications and knowledge of mathematical analysis and science.

3. Things that were felt necessary to participate in the social activities such as politics and governance.

4. Family consciousness such as parenting and preserving human values.

5. Things needed for entertainment, pleasure, and leisure and towards softening of emotional expressions.

Thus formulated patterns of knowledge in view of imposing the same on to the students eventually raised controversies of burdening the children in competitive scenarios for an unhappy childhood and essentially the ignorance of a child’s unique characteristic features led to the insistence of learner centered educational systems with a strong belief that every child’s inner self contained a spiritual essence, a spark of divine energy that enabled a child to learn independently. Great improvements were made to stimulate the imagination of children by way of songs, stories, and tales of folk heroes were introduced to raise cultural values and different values to improve physical and cognizing skills and adaptability in the society by participating in group activities.

With a rapid advancement of scientific knowledge and deep penetration of the same in almost all forms of human material activity towards multidimensional productivity and at the same time ever posing challenges in the course of its changes, the learner-teacher interaction took new changes towards eliciting the capability of logical reasoning and the powers of critical thinking in the students.

On the other side the pattern of educational system and the generalized practicalities varied greatly in the world due to various forms of social struggles such as slaves against owners, peasants against feudal lords, workers against absolute monarchies, national liberation movements against imperialism led way for structuring different curriculum suitable for specific societies with different perceptions and their historical compulsions.

The course of the First World War and the Second World War and the varied impact of the same upon the entire society, and the fundamental social changes in various parts of the world after the wars and the consequent developments towards nation building exercises to cope up with global trade and commerce, science and technology, arts and culture and the decisive factors with varied usage of natural resources and very importantly the widely accepted and justified competitive temperament could provoke dramatic changes in the overall educational systems of the world, when a state of aggression had been thrust upon the tender and innocent hearts of the children.

Soon after the II World War which greatly led way for the fall of Imperialistic regimes, the trend of invasions and conquering the nations slowly faded out with the emergence of United Nations Organization and the states took a different direction of monopolizing the resources, through the power of science and technology. The abundant growth of science and technology towards exploration of almost all the available natural wealth towards effective usage in multifarious dimensions, logistics, transportations, agriculture, instrumentations, advancements in clinical services, medicines, expansion of biological studies, food and clothing, domestic durables and consumables, information processing, communication and so on thus leading to the drastic proliferation of science towards multitudes if specifics thereby diversification of forms of knowledge into hundreds of disciplines.


By the same time, the rapid growth of modernized industries and the overflowing efforts of mass production gave a huge thrust for globalization of trade and commerce, in that way leading all the countries to function in a business motivated disposition exerting an indirect pressure on strengthening individual economic stipulations, in turn to assist the respective nations to plan their economic strategies. On the other hand the parameters of the progress of an individual getting directed towards economic strength and freedom in an unlimited competitive arena, the power and influence of monetary freedom getting globally established, towards justifications of amassment of wealth.

Such a state of general affairs had its own horrifying impacts on the young and innocent children; when rapacious efforts were exercised to expose almost all the scientific and technological developments in the educational pattern with diluted consciousness in the obligation of true conceptual understanding thereby diffusing the deep comprehension of subjective orientations in the minds of children. The accumulation of abundant information had been considered as knowledge and excessive information had been stressed upon the learners occupying their whole time and energy by far deviating them from true understanding of the fundamentals in the primary level. At the same time higher education had been motivated towards mastering any one of the innumerable disciplines acquiring innumerable qualifications getting far deviated from a holistic understanding and approach, only to enable an individual for getting monetarily established in the competitive scenario and the importance of conceptual and critical understanding of the fundamentals had been eventually ignored.

The competitive trend in the productivity, trade and commerce and so on, as a natural consequence entered into the system of education when various terminologies like winning, success, victory, achievement, failure, defeat and so on entered in to educational systems and the most important substance called knowledge had been pushed to the back.

Education became a tool to establish oneself in the society with adequate monetary freedom and the education which provided abundant degree of freedom to earn wealth became the parameter for qualitative aspect of education and the said quality education greatly paved way for any individual for formulating a career pattern to climb to the top and such a quality education became accessible only for a privileged section of the society in many parts of the world.

When the significance of almost all forms of practices of the human society was focused upon productivity and productivity only, naturally as the present science and technology alone could cater an individual to get equipped to face the world and fight for his survival and could amass wealth only if an individual could fight well, the knowledge of science and technology occupied the majority portion of educational systems.

As a natural consequence of such a widely accepted and justified trend, education assumed the face of preparing an individual to earn for a living when such a ‘living’ could never be defined truthfully with any other forms of knowledge but has been widely assumed only as a survival attitude by majority of the population in the competitive scenario and to fight for a so called secured life in terms of wealth and assets. It could not help but undermine all other forms of human knowledge except science, when all the human values and standards of civilization that are vigorously preached in the schools and colleges to become less important when an individual faces the practical world after schooling, resulting in the sheer contradiction of theory and practice as a whole making this world a modern circus maxima when everybody could fight aimlessly to retain oneself thereby increasing all the disorders and sufficiently making this world chaotic. Naturally education could not help but becoming an antonym to knowledge.

One of the greatest concerns with the highest reverence in the entire history of civilized mankind that had been dedicated to cultivate the individuals for the progress of harmony and civilization of the whole of human society, known as education, eventually started losing its dignity when education turned out to be one another business activity and a means of attaining social status without any obligation towards a responsibility and without bothering about true knowledge but at the same time with hasty and voracious approaches towards the tender children in madly preparing them for all the exams, marks and results.

In essence, the innocent and tender children who descend to this earth without any prerequisite notion and expectation or reservation and who are exposed to this world only through the activities of the present social orders and amalgamations are being crudely victimized for all the social disorders and anarchies of this present chaotic world that had been the result of hasty and vision-less developments in just a couple of centuries.

As a whole the present education throughout the world has lost its direction when no educational establishment is able to provide even a sharp definition for education or knowledge and the exact purpose of education or the exact purpose of knowledge in the human society and the world. It is a bare fact that any such true definition would never fit in aptly for any of the prevailing educational systems.

Now there is a wide spread debate with the emergence of soaring criticism in multiple angles on present education throughout the world; that could never be ignored but on the other hand to be considered as one of the most significant and vital issue and great challenge for the human race in the forth coming decades.


On the other hand when the present education system is primarily motivated towards acquirement of scientific knowledge, the knowledge of science that is motivated towards understanding nature in a systematized way, has not only influenced the advancement on the technological aspects, but also made nature accessible to man with an abundant degree of freedom.

In spite of great advancement in scientific knowledge, the technological applications, advancements in communication, great philosophical and psychological reorganizations, the awareness and progresses in the overall civilization of mankind and great scientific and philosophical notions on the generalities of the universal phenomena, it could be well discerned that the multifarious techniques in the utilization of nature and the natural resources along with great political and economic dramas have been expressing a rapacious aggression in the exploitation of nature and towards the sheer destruction of nature.

This is because science failed to perceive a single plane that would accommodate all the material and qualitative diversities in the great process of creation of the universe and the world, which would express the fundamental harmony and could not cross over the philosophical barriers, posed by the present methodology and practicalities.

In such a scenario of diversified proliferation of science, while losing its core character of understanding nature, the knowledge of science totally got deviated from its very purpose, because of the continued hasty attempts to understand nature by making it into bits, parts and fragments, at the same time starting with a hurried usage of nature towards rapid exploitation, eventually assumed a character of contradiction with nature by not only pursuing destruction of nature but also leading mankind towards self destruction.

It is an obvious fact that science that has grown towards multifarious autonomous fragments of disciplines, laws, theories and postulates is not only unsuccessful in unifying them but also failed to identify the harmony in them. In other words all the practices of science perfectly sharpen the question as to, “whether nature belongs to man or man belongs to nature?”

The true and ultimate purpose of any form of knowledge is the development of mankind and the direction towards harmonious living of all the living forms in nature alone would indicate the true developmental aspects of mankind.

A knowledge that has not accommodated the sheer destructive path that had been chosen by the mankind with the advent of scientific advancements and practices, could never be recognized as knowledge but only ignorance, and the purpose of true knowledge could only be to orient the thought process towards the positive direction, to ensure the survival of the mankind along with nature.


But we observe no such responsible and sharpened attempt in any of the educational systems throughout the world. It is the birth right of any human being to acquire knowledge about him and the things around him. But if any one makes an attempt to acquire knowledge then he has no other option but to confront with the present science. But the knowledge of science has taken an altogether diversified course in multitude dimensions towards multifarious and hundreds and hundreds of disciplines and a single life time would not be sufficient to complete even a particular discipline fully, when even to talk about knowledge becomes ridiculous.

At the same time with all our practices towards hurried usage of natural resources and exploitation of nature in multifarious forms in the name of scientific advancements and sufficiently complicating the lives of everybody on this planet called earth, while successfully making the lives of our future generations towards acute uncertainty. It is obvious that we have not only taken nature for granted, not only taken our younger generation for granted but we have taken also the lives of our future generations for granted with sheer ignorance.

The present chaotic world with ever growing uncertainties in almost all the walks of lives demands a sharp definition for knowledge and the true purpose of knowledge and the perception of a central axis for knowledge as a whole.

In such a state of affairs if we still do not understand our responsibility of simplifying the present educational systems and to put off the exorbitant burden over the delicate shoulders of our younger generation towards making them get a holistic understanding of the situation with abundant room for their intellectual capabilities, creativity and also an avenue for conversion creativity into practices, we would have no other option but to regret with the advent of the forthcoming eventualities as nature has got its own ways to make us understand the truth.

On the other hand taking the oath and other such idiotic and ridiculous exercises would increase the anxiety of the children to exponential dimensions who are already deterred greatly with the confusions of present educational systems and at the same time would expose only our irresponsibility and ignorance in understanding the realities of the world and would make us appear like clowns in the eyes of our future generations.

Acchorian said...

I totally agree with Ramanujam because we have brought down this situation for the children. Concept based studying has also become history now. Children are forced to learn without actually realizing the relevance of the subjects to actual life and the world around them.
It is our duty to change the system of education by bringing in innovative methods of learning where children will volunteerily love to learn in school and home!