If there was one thing that the country’s first democratically elected government failed to do in its term, it was in using education as a way to cultivate democratic values among the youth.
We would be ill advised to believe and work towards imbibing democratic culture among people of the present generation, and probably half of the next.
It would be like sending the culture up a creek without a paddle, in that what we would then be looking at is to change a mindset, culture and a way of life that we have been used to for more than a century.
That cannot happen overnight and this change in culture, we seek today, may not happen even during the next few generations.
But what is crucial at this point is to sow the seeds today, so as we might have made, a century down the line, if lucky through the use of the ever-advancing technologies, half a century down the line, good strides towards that change.
Democracy is not a destination that countries can strive to reach, but a process nations have to keep working on, evolving with each generation of people that follows.
This is where education comes in.
There is a need to incorporate in school curriculums subjects on democracy, so as to prepare our children to be citizens, who will actively participate in the process and preserve democracy in future.
While teaching children about democracy, schools should do it in a way they can experience it too.
Within that backdrop, election commission’s recent decision to disallow political parties to visit schools for fear of causing “politicisation”, given the existence of five political parties, has been bit of a case of the boy crying wolf.
Instead of disallowing political parties from visiting schools and other such institutions, election commission officials should have considered more the conduct, content and context that they should maintain while speaking to students.
For students, who have reached the age of voting, even they should, like any other adult, be able to listen to each of the political parties, to make an informed decision of where their votes go.
Otherwise, why would students see any importance in voting or what it means, and its importance is the one thing that we continue emphasising every time.
Youth comprise a significant vote bank and it is only natural that political party’s wish to reach out to them as well.
Therefore, if our students must be taught to value democracy as a concept and a way of life, it is crucial that schools bring democracy to life in the curriculums.
That way we will equip our children with the skills to become better-informed and more active citizens in the society.