New Delhi: The days of children having fun on Teacher’s Day by having a few of them dress up the way teachers do and run the class appear to be well past. A day intended to commemorate the contribution of teachers in shaping student lives has been taken over by the political regime in order to shape future voters.
If some had thought that last year’s televised interaction of the Prime Minister with teachers and children was a one-off event, the plans for a repeat clearly show that the “achche din” of fun and freedom on Teacher’s Day have been replaced with state-directed events – designed to win over minds and loyalties.
President joins PM in lecturing children
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to nearly 1,000 students at Manekshaw Auditorium – with the telecast being compulsorily viewed by lakhs of other children too in schools across the country. This year, apart from a telecast of Modi’s interaction, President Pranab Mukherjee has also been asked to enthral school children with his words of wisdom. The President will conduct a ‘President’s Class’ with the students of Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, at the President’s Estate in New Delhi.
Both events are set for September 4 – one day before Teachers’ Day – because this year Krishna Janmashtami falls on September 5 and most schools will be closed that day.
In this case too, while the children at the school will directly benefit from the interaction, millions more across the country will be made to sit and watch the programme by their school administrators who have been instructed to make arrangements for telecasting the event live.
Last year, when Modi’s Teachers Day interaction was first introduced, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had asked schools around India to make arrangements for viewing the live broadcast. Subsequently, both government and public schools scrambled to arrange televisions, along with set top boxes to telecast the programme. A few schools screened the event using projectors in their auditoriums. They had also urged students to be present in large numbers and some like Amity School in Vasundhara, Ghaziabad, had made attendance of senior students compulsory. Some schools like Bal Bharati in Noida who were even more eager to please, had told the students they would later be tested on the program.
Long attention spans required
This year, the situation is no different. The Prime Minister will interact with school children at Manekshaw Hall from 10 a.m. to 11-45 a.m. and the HRD Ministry has again directed schools throughout the country to make necessary arrangements so that children can view his address live on TV. The children will have to assemble in the school grounds, auditorium, hall or arena. And just as Modi’s program ends, the children will have to remain seated and watch the President’s Class next.
Since students of the second shift schools will not be able to watch the live telecast of these events, the school authorities have been told to “encourage” the children to watch the telecast at home.
The Department of Education of Delhi Government has, on MHRD orders, also instructed all schools to submit details on the number of students who attended or otherwise watched the event. Teacher’s Day will from now on be marked by attendance and attention rather than learning, creativity or genuine gratitude.