Letter to Editor

Not only toilets

Dear Editor,

While I agree that “access to sanitation and water are fundamental human rights”  the assertion that  “a lack of these services is putting hundreds of millions of children, girls and women at risk each and every day.” where the risks refer not to health and hygiene but rather risk to personal safety and freedom from violence, takes attention away from basic equality and humanity.   Continue reading


A funny thing happened on the way to the Anganwadi

Along the way to the anganwadi in Appalagraharam,  we saw a group of children playing outside, in civil dress.  A rare sight, and not just because it was a weekday.   They were all girls.  We often see boys running and playing outside, but rarely do we see girls playing games that take up more space than the front porch [1].  Here they were deep into a kabbaddi match.

What’s the occasion?” we called out to them.

“Picnic!” they replied.  We walked further and saw another group, this time both boys and girls, playing various games.

Two adults stood nearby wielding sticks.  I went to chat with one of them.  What are they playing? Whose  turn is it?  Why are you holding a stick?  He dropped the stick.  We must not hit.  We agreed.  I turned back to find that Ravi was chatting with the other teacher.  I found them engaged in the same discussion!  I went to join them.

When we use force, we teach only how to use force, I explained.  We may think we are teaching some right way or right principle but all we teach is that when you have power over another, you may use force.  Maybe this is what we experienced as children and are now practicing upon others.  But we can change these dynamics, once we are aware of them.

Though the teacher dropped the stick when I questioned him, would he have done so if a student had questioned him?  Does the environment of the school allow the student to question?  That would stimulate critical thinking and responsibility on the part of the student and the teacher.

When I walked back from the Anganwadi, I noticed the stick was back in his hand.

1.  See also R. Ramanujam, “Gender Construction In The Informal Curriculum,”  Education Journal — Gender and Education, Volume 1, Number1, April 2005, p. 49.  Accessed online on Dec 30 2013.

and Position Paper 3.2 of the National Focus Group on Gender Issues in Education, National Council of Educational Research and Training, November 2006, Accessed online on Dec 30 2013.