Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Annual Academic Day: The Missing Ingredient in School Education

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Editor,
In many schools annual sports day is celebrated with great enthusiasm, showcasing athletic talents and promoting physical health, teamwork and discipline. However, in the midst of all these events, one wonder; why there aren’t similar celebrations for academic successes?
The absence of annual academic functions in many schools is a topic worthy of consideration. Unlike sports events, academic achievements are typically acknowledged through more subdued manner such as report cards or parent-teacher meetings. There is a great disparity with the way schools celebrate sporting events and the way schools acknowledge academic achievements.
School plays a crucial role in shaping the future of students and needs to provide a balanced education that focuses both on physical developments and intellectual growth. A balanced emphasis on both aspects ensures all round development of students and prepares them for future challenges. By observing an academic day, schools ensure that intellectual achievements are valued as much as athletic ones.
Academic successes often come after persistent effort, dedication and hard work. Celebrating such achievements publicly not only acknowledges the hard work of those successful students but also sets a standard for other students to follow. Such recognitions can be a powerful motivator for other students to strive for academic success. It can inspire students to take their studies more seriously and create an environment where learning is valued and pursued with enthusiasm. It can encourage students to think critically and creatively and promote love for learning.
An annual academic function can also give opportunity for those students who are not athletically gifted but possess extraordinary intellectual abilities. Some students may excel in sports, while others may excel in academic disciplines such as mathematics, science, literature and the arts. Honouring academic successes ensures that students with intellectual talents received recognition they deserve.
Academic skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and analytical abilities are important for success in higher education. By focusing on academic skills, schools can better prepare students for future challenges. It will not only motivate students to go for higher education but will also equip them with necessary skills and knowledge to be successful.
An annual academic day can also give an opportunity to involve community and parents in students’ education. When the community and parents are involved in school education, students are more likely to feel supported and motivated to succeed. Such involvement in school can ultimately lead to increased academic success. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for parents to take an active role in their children’s academic progress and in their intellectual development.
Organizing an annual sports day requires space, equipment, and coordination, but it’s often perceived as a more straightforward endeavour compared to an academic annual function. Planning an annual academic function might require more creativity, resources, and logistic considerations.
Despite these challenges, there’s merit in reconsidering the importance of academic achievements and finding ways to celebrate them more prominently. By highlighting academic accomplishments through annual functions or similar events, schools can reinforce the value of education and motivate students to excel academically.
An annual academic day not only celebrates academic achievements but also fosters a love for learning, creativity and encourages holistic development among students and prepares students for future success.
Yours etc.,
Dr Sengkham Marak & Dr Debabrata Das
Tura

Euphemisms for disability
Editor,
I used to look at changes in adjectives in addressing those with disabilities. The change from ‘disabled’ or ‘handicapped’ or ‘physically challenged’ to ‘differently abled’ or ‘specially- abled’ is a good thing and a milestone of our evolutionary progress. Then a question comes to my mind whether a person on whom the new adjective is used likes it or not.
I got my answer from the PhraseFinder. According to it, the term ‘differently abled’ was coined by the US Democratic National Committee in the early 1980s as a more accessible term than handicapped (Or in the UK, disabled). It says that the motivation seems to be an attempt to view the people previously called handicapped in a more positive light and also as need to be seen as politically correct.
But then the website echoes my apprehensions when it says that some have viewed the label as a euphemistic attempt to disguise the difficulties experienced by people who have serious physical or mental handicaps.
The term ‘differently abled’ or ‘specially-abled’ sounds good, but it does not narrate the truth. In its efforts to glorify the condition of a person, it totally hides the pain the person is undergoing.
This was the reason why the term ‘Harijan’ (man of god) had been rejected. Mahatma Gandhi preferred to call Untouchables or Dalits, ‘Harijan.’ He said, “Not that the change of name brings about any change of status, but one may at least be spared the use of a term which is itself one of reproach.” But Dalits rejected the term.
In his book, ‘The Untouchable as Himself’, anthropologist R. S. Khare quoted a Dalit reformer, who said, “It was a superficial way for Gandhi to resolve his guilt.”
Though Gandhiji’s intention was good, the term ‘Harijan’ did not reflect the truth. Women have stopped using the term ‘Devi’ (goddess) as a suffix to their names for the same reason.
Women did not like the differential gender treatment. Women were glorified as goddesses, and therefore burdened with social scrutiny. But men were allowed to be human beings, even with a licence of “boys will be boys”.
Many years ago, maidservants were called ‘jhi’ in Bengal. This is a Bengali word which means daughter. Later, the word became an offensive term. It got replaced by ‘kajer lok’, which means a working person. As a matter of fact, to sugar-coat the truth sounds more offensive. Such an effort only adds insult to injury.
To say lofty words about someone that could be anything but true is nothing but sarcasm and sounds like a tongue-in-cheek remark.
Now, we will return to our main discussion revolving around the term, ‘differently abled’ or ‘specially- abled’. We need to listen to disability activist and Paralympic medallist Elizabeth Wright. On such terms, she said, “Ableists may think that they are being positive and uplifting for disabled people, but in essence it is a mask, a covering up of their own uncomfortable feeling about disability.” Interestingly, she echoed what a Dalit reformer told Khare about his views on the term ‘Harijan’.
She further explained, “By denying the very term disability we are removing disability from the equation. Society ceases to be the problem. The world doesn’t need to be fixed or challenged around ableism because there is nothing to fix. There is nothing to fix because the individual isn’t disabled – just differently abled.”
Indeed, to sweep the pain and problems of disabled people under the carpet of euphemism is a grave injustice to them.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,
Kolkata

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