Foundations for Life

A hard hitting and powerful advert from Save the Children makes a powerful point. To have the best chance of living a successful life in the long term children’s start in life and their childhood needs to be protected and they need the best possible foundations. This is, perhaps, one of the most powerful influences on any society for the longer term.

Poverty, poor health and other life challenges in childhood blight future generations to more of the same problems. When investment in childhood pays such great long term dividends for a country or society, we do have to marvel at those so called advanced or economically well-off countries that skimp in this area.

Fast Company – These are the Best (and Worst) Places Around the World for Kids to Grow Up

Equality in the world may be an unrealistic concept. However, striving for equity of opportunity means ensuring that all that can possibly be done is done to ensure that the most helpless members of our society are given a fair chance and start in life. Supporting mothers of early years children, minimising the impact of conflict on children, ensuring early years education provision and effective public education on diet and health should be some of the minimum expectations.

More can and should be done.

Schools – Being ‘Safe’

How much safety is ‘too much’ safety in schools? Well, this is a question asked recently by a survey of UK teachers conducted by Teachers TV.

Here’s a BBC article that summarises the results of the survey.

BBC link

Now, when we have all finished laughing at the foolish and bizarre examples given, we do need to think hard about what we actually ask and expect from schools, compared with the level of duty of care we take with our children when they are in our own care. We saw, most recently, with Modern School, Delhi, a tragic incident where a child died from a severe asthma attack. What followed can really be described as a ‘blood lust’ for the school Principal, the staff and pretty much anyone who could, in any way be ‘blamed’ for this incident.

My son is an asthmatic. When he gets home from school he goes out to play, runs around energetically playing cricket and soccer. All that time there is no nurse nearby with an oxygen cylinder and fast vehicle at the ready. Does that make us bad parents? Irresponsible? Or, somehow, as parents are we excused being judged by the same standards as a school (perhaps because fees are being paid?)

Logically, we have to have some fear that if schools are going to be held responsible for a duty of care way higher than parents, then I fear that we could see here in India the kind of bizarre examples quoted in this article. School management would feel duty bound to wrap the children in so much cotton wool. For one thing – expect less outstation trips and excursions as some schools conclude that it’s just not worth the risks.

Surely, this would be such a shame – don’t we have a duty to work together, to maintain a reasonable, rational approach to such matters and to find an appropriate balance between safety and risk that enables our children to grow up in a rich and stimulating environment?

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