Every parent wants his/her child to emulate the Russian prodigy Bella Devyatkina who can speak eight languages at the age of eight. Bella utilised the extended lockdown imposed to curb COVID-19 to study foreign languages sitting on the couch. Quite the contrary, most of our kids felt irritated during the lockdown instead of using their leisure time for creative venture.
With an emergence of the Omicron variant, a third wave of COVID-19 has already begun engulfing the Nepali society. For a fear of the transmission of this highly contagious strain, schools and other educational institutions have been closed at least for two weeks for the third time in two years. The concerned government agencies are doing their best to administer vaccines against the pandemic to people. The first, second and even booster dose of different vaccines are now on offer.
As part of the containment measures, the district administrative offices have imposed ‘smart’ lockdowns. Non-essential services have been closed down, and gatherings of more than 25 persons have been banned. All of such efforts have been made to save the lives of people. But, some students are seen in a jubilant mood. They were overheard making plans to visit various places within the country. A group of adolescent school girls living in my neighbourhood at Kapan were thinking of visiting their paternal home in Tatopani and other places of Sindhupalchowk. Some boys may also have crazier schemes than that of those girls.
Today’s children listen to their friends, but they rarely pay attention to what their parents have to say. If intervened, they may raise the issue of child rights. This is the reason why the parents hardly interfere in their children’s plans. When the parents respect the wish of their children, the latter should also not hurt the dignity of the former. They must understand that pandemic is the integral part of human life. In the long history of mankind, communicable diseases such as diarrhoea, measles and plagues had claimed countless lives. The Spanish Flue killed millions and lasted for two years. Many diseases have been controlled only after the invention of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928, and effective distribution of allopathic medicines.
As for example, the southern plain of Nepal was almost barren until some decades ago because of the menace of malaria. It was cultivated rapidly only after spraying of dichloro-diphenyl-trichoroethane (DDT) in the 1940s. As DDT turned effective to contain malaria, typhus and other insects harmful to humans, the settlements in the Terai and Madhesh got expanded significantly. Thus, pandemics come and go. COVID-19 may threaten us for many years, but we should not lose our courage and leave studies. If you follow Bella, you may become a perfect student. But, if you use the vacation period only to visit places and spend time just for merrymaking, you will certainly face the fate of the Sudanese students.
Recently, Al Jazeera TV showed that the students of Sudan did not pay their attention to their studies in the second wave of COVID lockdowns, but went on playing games of various types. As the schools opened and the classes resumed, most of students forgot reading and writing. So, the teachers had to teach them from the very beginning. It is better our students would not face the fate of the Sudanese students. The parents have worked hard to raise their offspring so the latter must not hurt the feelings of the former. Time is a harsh teacher. So a scholar has rightly said: “Actions count in the life, but not the excuses”.