Shining or Shooting Stars?
Published on July 09, 2016

Shining or Shooting Stars?

Shining or Shooting Stars?

 30 days of experiencing Divinity…the holy month that we all look forward to spending n complete devotion to the Divine and at the end of it the  EIdul Fitr that imbues goodwill in us for others. Every ear it comes to remind us of our humane duty towards the weaker sections of society and we devoutly ensure that the poor are fed and the less fortunate are assisted bringing cheer to the depressed, poor and needy.

The best and most beautiful are also the most abstract and this fulfilling feeling that fills us can only be felt by the heart and neither seen nor touched…I pray and wish all that; abundant happiness knocks at the door, stays with us and rains on us peace, love, joy and good health. I also pray specially for our children. The tender, fragile buds to blossom into beautiful, fragrant flowers and also pray for our teachers that work day and night as sincere gardeners – ever with a smile and total commitment.

Eid Mubarak !

I reiterate my plea for professional counselling to be put in place in our educational institutions. We must strengthen our resolve to ensure stress free minds. For there cannot be a beautiful tomorrow if the today is not beautiful and when the mind is stressed it can only get depressed. An active body is equally important for de-stressing. Physical exercise can play a critical role in our schools to help children. I am definitely not saying throw out the books and only play. However, if we would like our children to do better in school, play is important. An international group of experts that studied the value of exercise in school going children has this to say in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. “Physical activity before during and after school promotes scholastic performance in children and youth.” The experts also conclude that exercise and fitness “are beneficial to brain structure brain function and cognition.” This research group comprised 24 researchers from USA, Canada and Europe and they assessed the value of all kinds of exercise including recess and physical education classes along with organised sports and old fashioned outdoor play. Understandably such activities take children away from books and studies but I look at it as good investment for academic achievement. Even a single break for moderate intensity exercise can boost scholastic achievement.

What is of far greater interest in the report for me as an educationist is the fact that the benefits also extend to the psychological and social realm. According to the experts exercise helps clear the head, expands ability to make friends and help children feel more confident around their peers as well as their teachers and other adults. Focused, goal oriented exercise provide extra benefits too such as  ‘life skills’ as well as ‘core values’ like respect and responsibility. Physical health is not negotiable and when it is ensured then mental wellbeing follows.  So whether it is organised sports like tennis, table tennis, khokho, khabadi, throw ball, volley ball, basketball or hockey to mention a few there is merit in ensuring that children are exercising through play for mental well-being. Walking to school, or bicycling to school, tending the garden in the school all boost physical health.

I recall reading in 2008 about girls taking to the football field and practicing seriously under their coach. Interestingly the interview said that the environment had changed and parents wanted their girls to come forward and showcase their talent in all streams. A new game for Kashmir at that time, but the will of our girls in learning new skills admirable. I wondered if this was just a small fad. However, in 2015 I was proud to read about the all women tournament organised by JKFA held in Srinagar that attracted at least 112 participants from 12 teams from the women’s colleges and schools. One of the players interviewed had highlighted the benefit of a fit body and a blossoming of personality though playing. Our children are wise. But do we ever take their counsel in what we are doing in the name of education or are we just feeding them per agendas?

2016…the first woman coach and referee Nighat aka JJ or Jiya Jaan as she is fondly called by her family is known to the world by JJ7 her 3 month old football club where she is coaching players for a B division tournament planned after Eid.

A great paradigm shift…and one we all need to be proud of and continue to provide environments for such success stories to become an everyday affair and not once in a blue moon. Problems are everywhere, however when there is support from society and family these vanish and a child blossoms into a fragrant flower. Nighat’s story is the same. Father’s support and later mother’s support and encouragement coupled with dedicated hard work ensured honours and recognition and she earned her place in the state women’s football team and the All India Football Association adjudged her the “best referee” for officiating in a local boys’ tournament.

Internet penetration and access to social media that can either be constructive or destructive, decrease in the traditional form of religious practices are some new elements to the already stressful and troubled narrative.  If our children need to exploit opportunities for their livelihood, life skills and core values play a critical role and mere net surfing and getting mired in confusions of practices will be of no help at all. I share with agony what I had read in a blog of a youth (name withheld for purposes of anonymity) that has chosen to travel outside for a livelihood to a city that has more employment opportunities in day as compared to what can be got in the home state in a year. What brought pain to the heart is the statement ‘If you are equipped with skills and knowledge, you would need some stopping, otherwise moving to this city in search of a well-paying job is a futile exercise and we just need to prepare for ‘KAS”. Well, I will open up this term for you. “Every Kashmiris dream or the last measure of resort”.

Each and every child is a potential fragrant blossom and a shining star. It is education that can make them so and it is our collective will to provide quality education and a supportive environment that will decide how many turn out as shining stars or shooting stars.

-         A writer, thinker, published author, and an educationist, Dr. Farooq Ahmad Wasil, is  GLOBAL HEAD low cost schools, GEMS Education, Dubai, UAE. He has over 3 decades of experience in the field of education – setting up, operating and managing schools. You can contact him at farooq.wasil@gmail.com

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