21 November, 2018

Blog

Who Is To Blame?

By Sirini Jayawardene

Last two weeks our hearts were crying for the little son who departed from this world by accident. Most of us didn’t know him or his family, but we cried for him too. We heard stories about his family, we inquired from friends who attended the funeral, and we discussed and talked about it. We saw his picture in the newspapers, and we knew what he looked like. We still think about him and ask God that it should not happen to even our worst enemy.

z_p18-Was-student-01Lots of news websites carried this story. We read them and we read the comments too. Most were sorrowful messages condoling and blessing him ‘Nirwana’ and there were few hilarious, like blaming the government for giving low quality equipment to schools.

There was lot of blame going here and there and nowhere too; the school, the teachers, the other students, the school gardener and the parents and the government also in some cases.

All news items carried a similar story. We knew it was a terrible accident. But come to think of this, didn’t we play with such equipment when we were kids? Wasn’t there heavy rollers lying outside our school premises before? Wasn’t there other equipment lying everywhere when building construction was going on? Haven’t any of you played with this type of equipment before?

We have. There were a number of people who said they too played with these rollers in their various schools. This hand roller was something which was found lying outside on the pitch on most boys schools in Sri Lanka.

What is the difference between then and now? Why would such a tragic accident happen now when the kids are more educated in number of things even if they are in Grade 4, than 20 years ago?

Our present day kids are very smart. Even a kid who is 3 years, know how to operate a mobile phone. They know even to play a game on a mobile phone. They observe everything that the adults do, and within minutes they know how to operate any electronic gadget.  They are smarter than any kid 20 years ago.

Most of our families have one kid now. In my son’s class there are only 5 kids who have a brother or a sister. There are two kids who have more than two kids in the family. The rest of the class is only one child in the family. 20 years ago, in my class there was 1 kid who was the only child. We envied her!

In the families which have only one kid, both parents are working. In most cases the parents get back home late in the evening. Either the child is with grandparents or with a maid at home.

The kids are pampered and protected while the parents are at home. Everything, is thought by the mother and father. Nothing left for the kid. Parents don’t have much time to spend with the kid, but the kid is showered with anything and everything. There is spare money and what the kid needs the parents buy. The kid does not have to bother about creativity or cost cutting. Education is the priority. If the parents can afford a computer, most of the homework gets generated out of the computer. No reference to Mother Nature, books or newspapers, but every reference from the internet searches. The kid does not share anything, studies alone, gets individual coaching, and does not have anybody to play with. The kid does not have much individuality; quite selfish. Don’t know to cope up with the dangers of the normal day to day life nor the safety measures. In simple words no common sense. Not their fault. We brought them up like that.

If we compare in our offices, the young generation is extremely tech savvy. They are brilliant with computers or any technology. I am sure they call us dumb!

But if you compare the day to day activities, the young are smart in getting things done. But when things don’t work out, we find that they are not very smart in thinking of options. If they think of options, they are costly. 20 years ago, when we were young employees, we were coached to do our daily work. We did them manually. If things did not work out, we thought of how it will affect the organization and think of options. These options were very simple ones. We knew spending money for something unexpected is not acceptable. We looked for answers from our friends. We saved items to use for another day. My father, who is a retired government officer, tells me that they used the reverse side of the unimportant letters they get into their office used as the office copy, to use under the original letterhead and the carbon. Their Office Assistant reversed the envelopes to use for official letters to other government offices. In my time, it was not so. But we saved toffee wrappers, the silver paper on chocolates, the picture post cards or any greeting cards received. These were used for any event later.  We used them for school work. We used them for scrap books. We recycled them and made greeting cards out of them. We had to use these, because our parents could not afford to buy these items for us, because we had more kids at home. Also, only one parent was working. There was no fancy stuff available in the shops for our use. Because of all these problems, we had to be creative and innovative in using what little we had into something of use once again. Therefore, 20 years ago, the kids had to use their minds and heads more than the kids now. We used scissors, we used knives or blades instead of pencil sharpeners, and we knew how to use them and the dangers of using them.  We saw our parents using these, and we had to use them all the time for our work. We did not have internet to copy and paste, we cut our greeting cards, magazine pages, newspapers.

Because of the lack of facilities, kids had to learn a lot of tasks which might be called difficult by kids today. We used hammers, mammoties, spades and we even lit the garbage pile in the garden. Our grandparents, neighbors, parents all did this work. They also taught us how to be safe while using them. They did not chase us away. I remember using the small iron pipe and blowing to light our hearth when I was younger than small Senitha.

Therefore, we too played with this roller long time ago. But the older students chased us away or the gardener in the school chased us away. We did not talk back at them. We ran away. When nobody was around we played with it again. We knew that it was heavy. We knew that nobody should go to the front. If someone went the rest of us would shout at the person. But we rolled it too and mind you, rolling was more fun on the slope. We knew the seriousness of rolling this back and forth, because we knew it was prohibited. We knew that it can injure us. We did it carefully. We did it responsibly. Why? Because at home, at school, in the society it was such, that we had more common sense about the dangers of the world. We never stayed inside after we returned from school. We played with corroded tins and a ball. We never ever cut our fingers to a tin. A tin never hit us on the face when we broke them hard with a ball. It was not luck. We knew that we needed to be careful. Be safe. We listened to adults; maybe with reluctance we obeyed the commands of the older siblings. We never talked back at them. Therefore, the older ones always gave us advice. Not always the family members, anyone, maybe even the neighbors. Sometimes, we have been advised by just strangers walking on the road. But with shame or guilt we listened and obeyed their commands.

We knew how to handover a knife to another. We knew the dangers of using sharp tools. We knew that you must never stand in front of a moving swing. We knew when a Javelin is thrown, nobody should stand within the vicinity. The others students made sure, that rest of the people stand way outside the range.

The blame must be taken by the whole society for bringing up a generation who does not know to live outside the boundaries of technology and education; to live with the normal day to day things in life; to take responsibility for their actions; to listen to what elders say; to think of options, which may not always cost any money; to know the good and bad of any equipment or tool; to just live with Mother Nature.

Little Senitha and his friends were clueless of the dangers of the roller. Nobody told them to stop. Maybe because now days, the older kids cannot advice the smaller kids, they will tell them to go fly a kite! After it happened, the little friends did not know what to do. They did not know that it is damaging to be on the front path and it will injure the person. The small boy who was fun and jolly, suddenly pinned on the wall, they thought he will get up like Tom in ‘Tom and Jerry’ and walk back to them.  They didn’t know what to do. They did not go to the Masters who were training the drill. Why? They knew they had done something wrong, and something terrible has happened. They knew to play but they did not know, to play safe because the society did not teach them that. They have seen busy parents; they have seen adults who were avoiding problems, issues. They have not played outside at home and faced with problems, which their parents would help to solve.  They did not know what to do.

It is the society who forgot to teach our young the common sense in life, who must take the blame for this tragedy.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    3

    Boy’s bad karma according to Buddhism in SL’s main Buddhist school.

    Bad omen.

  • 4
    2

    “Who Is To Blame?” mahinda and gota of course.They are running the country aren’t they,totally, power concentrated in their hands.Who else can be blames.Others are all puppets who dance to their string pulling.

    Instead of all these military training for principals which killed some of them,they could have instructed the principals to see that children don’t play with the rollers and if they do then only the principal will have to follow a military training course.That should keep them on their toes and best behaviour in order to avoid the course.

  • 6
    2

    The responsibility is with the ground boy and the master in charge to ensure that safety standards are maintained in their area of authority. Those days we would not dare touch these things without getting shouted and reported by the ground boy. We would have been lined up for six of the best.

    These days the parents blame the teachers for everything. Teachers dare not discipline the students without being assaulted by parents, asked to kneel or being taken to the police. So it is no bodies business to teach disciplne to students, they do what they want.

    Students are misused and exploited to do traffic work without proper training or supervision on the roads. Cheap labour to help the police do their job?

    • 0
      2

      I doubt if the children did this for the fun of it. It is no fun pushing a heavy roller. Did any one ask them to do so?

    • 0
      0

      Not fair.

  • 3
    0

    We are a people who have been progressively desensitised to pain, death, suffering and what is right. We are a people who can rarely recognise the right from wrong, We have been taught to accept the wrongs in society stoically as inevitable to be borne and adopted as a life style. We have also no more tears to shed, How can we teach our children common sense, when there is nothing common or acceptable in what we sense and experience around us. A seed planted in the wrong soil will not germinate. The Hindu and Buddhist concept of recognising duality as two faces of the same coin and reconciling with this reality, has been to teach us that the darker aspect of this duality, is the only reality we have to adopt and live by.

    Dr.Rajasingham a Narendran

  • 3
    1

    Very appropriate analysis of the sociological ills of unplanned and haphazard progress. Of course we are all responsible for the ill effects of modernity and its encompassing technology.

    Wisdom, humility and humanity are learnt values and are very hard to come by.

  • 2
    1

    A very relevant article, but too much generalisation. You cant lump all the older generation and conversely all the younger in lots. But yes. The blame game has to stop. In the first flush of anger and sorrow its so easy to search for someone to blame. The terrible accident caused the death of a young child. Hopefully children, authorities and parents have learned a bitter lesson.

  • 3
    1

    This is exactly why the school authorities should have ensured properer safety measures in the school ground. knowing the caliber of children these days. It is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure prevention of accidents. This could have been prevented with simple locking mechanism on the roller only to be used by authorized persons. This is not a toy.

    I don’t recall playing with the roller when I was schooling which was some long time ago, it was not an option.

    This accident happened due to negligence of authorities. Children of any era will have innovative ways to explore stuff around them, this is their nature. As adults it is the responsibility of the authorities to put in place the checks and balances to prevent accidents. Why do we have road sign marking with “Deep Excavation” even though it’s quite obvious that some work is going on ? and there are was a instance where I know of a pregnant lady who fell halfway in to a open manhole during rain when there was no sign board near a popular shopping center in Colombo.

    This shows that school authorities are not smart enough to envisages the dangers caused by these tool.
    Few weeks back their was a accident where a javelin piercing a students head during training. This too was due to negligence. It shows basic safety procedures were not followed. Accidents will keep happening but it is the responsibility of responsible authorities to put in place proper preventive measures and make aware of the dangers.

    I don’t think their is a Safety Manual & guide lines to be followed in schools in Sri Lanka. We have to learn from these incidents and come up with such measures so that we can avoid such loss of precious life in the future. When a child enters school premises safety of that child is entrusted to the school authorities. Something like this happen in a leading school in Colombo is not at all acceptable.

  • 2
    1

    Brilliant analysis. Great article. I agree with all what you said but sometimes you can never Explain why bad things happen to Good people or innocent kids….

    • 3
      0

      yes, great article, but education begins at home and carried forward by the teachers – does it happen is the number one question everyone should ask. It should be made to happen unless we want our society and the future generations destroyed – since our leaders are only worried about themselves and their generations but not who brought them to the limelight!

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lankans are good at locking the stables when the horse is out.

  • 0
    1

    Dear Shirani

    I thank you for the kind sentiments expressed on the dead Boy.

    I am an octogenarian. I should confess that During my School days at Zahira Maradana indulged with my classmates of rolling the ground roller used for the Cricket wicket with each taking turn in riding the roller by balancing.

    Of course we got caught and got caned more than once. this we stopped after we witnessed a Road worker run over by a Steam Roller at Puchiborella Bo Gaha Junction. The Botton half of the body was just educed to pulp.

    What I am trying to say is that the above incident too is like any other reckless push cycle accident that take place amongst School Boy When They Race on their push Cycles at Break Neck Speed. Only Last year I read in the Papers That a O’level School Boy From Vavuniya Got Drowned in a Swimming Pool when he went with his School team to attend a provincial level competition to Jaffna whilst being Accommodated at Jaffna Central College Hostel. It is said that The boys have Gone to college Swimming pool by making a hole is the mesh fence and got drowned at he deep end. It was said that the boy did not know to swim at all. Whom are You Going to Blame. Vavuniya Maha Vidyalaya for selecting the Boy to the College team to represent School. Or the The Regional Director for selecting him to represent the region or the District Director for selecting him to represent the District. Or the Principal of The Jaffna Central College for accommodating the Vavuniya Students together with students from other four districts in the Province Or the Honorable Member of Parliament Namal Rajapaksa for Having taken special effort to build a Swimming Pool in Jaffna. Before shedding tears for the boy and blame the authorities just because it has happened. “Youth will always be Youths.” Only God Can Save them.

    I escaped several such scrapes and still counting my days with majority of mates gone to the other world.

    I suggest you if you want to do something good to the World and youth as a mother and to all others who want to do something useful for the Youth.

    You feel for the Cases of School Girls, including Children in Montessori classes who are sexually molested and some left stranded and other killed and dumped.

    You can read of several such cases for you to feel sorry. I suggest You really take Action to correct the Society of the following Unsaid atrocities committed on Young for a Start. Leave the Boy Who paid the price for his adventurous deed.

    Youths at their tender ages are Sexually Molested at temples, Orphanages, Infants are molested by School Security Guards, Van Drivers,Politicians Priests Etc.

    Please Forgive me for giving it off my Shoulder. I too must say I feel sorry for the parents. It is a great lost fore the Parents, relations and friends. Lets Say it is the Wish of God and try to console. But lets act against the evils perpetuated by the Society.

  • 0
    1

    Dear Shirani

    I thank you for the kind sentiments expressed on the dead Boy.

    I am an octogenarian. I should confess that During my School days at Zahira Maradana indulged with my classmates of rolling the ground roller used for the Cricket wicket with each taking turn in riding the roller by balancing.

    Of course we got caught and got caned more than once. this we stopped after we witnessed a Road worker run over by a Steam Roller at Puchiborella Bo Gaha Junction. The Botton half of the body was just educed to pulp.

    What I am trying to say is that the above incident too is like any other reckless push cycle accident that take place amongst School Boy When They Race on their push Cycles at Break Neck Speed. Only Last year I read in the Papers That a O’level School Boy From Vavuniya Got Drowned in a Swimming Pool when he went with his School team to attend a provincial level competition to Jaffna whilst being Accommodated at Jaffna Central College Hostel. It is said that The boys have Gone to college Swimming pool by making a hole is the mesh fence and got drowned at he deep end. It was said that the boy did not know to swim at all. Whom are You Going to Blame. Vavuniya Maha Vidyalaya for selecting the Boy to the College team to represent School. Or the The Regional Director for selecting him to represent the region or the District Director for selecting him to represent the District. Or the Principal of The Jaffna Central College for accommodating the Vavuniya Students together with students from other four districts in the Province Or the Honorable Member of Parliament Namal Rajapaksa for Having taken special effort to build a Swimming Pool in Jaffna. Before shedding tears for the boy and blame the authorities just because it has happened. “Youth will always be Youths.” Only God Can Save them.

    I escaped several such scrapes and still counting my days with majority of mates gone to the other world.

    I suggest you if you want to do something good to the World and youth as a mother and to all others who want to do something useful for the Youth.

    You feel for the Cases of School Girls, including Children in Montessori classes who are sexually molested and some left stranded and other killed and dumped.

    You can read of several such cases for you to feel sorry. I suggest You really take Action to correct the Society of the following Unsaid atrocities committed on Young for a Start. Leave the Boy Who paid the price for his adventurous deed.

    Youths at their tender ages are Sexually Molested at temples, Orphanages, Infants are molested by School Security Guards, Van Drivers,Politicians Priests Etc.

    Please Forgive me for giving it off my Shoulder. I too must say I feel sorry for the parents. It is a great lost fore the Parents, relations and friends. Lets Say it is the Wish of God and try to console. But lets act against the evils perpetuated by the Society.

    “It is the society who forgot to teach our young the common sense in life, who must take the blame for this tragedy.”

    In My Opinion If any one is to be blamed for the above incident it is the God/Fate.

    The Society should learn to teach the elders to behave without crushing innocent young ones. If any one is to be blamed it is we the elders.

    The Sri Lankan Society Should blame themselves for electing a set of Buffoons over and over again. Also for feeding and keeping up Corrupt religions off all hues.

  • 2
    0

    I feel that a large part of responsibility lay with the dead child’s play mates who, in typical contemporary Sri Lankan fashion, avoid raising the alarm fearing they would be implicated. This might have led to the time lapse between adult discovery of the tragedy and emergency medical help. This is a culture that is instilled by example from self-serving and insensitive adults who only care about their own.

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