Posted by Jiggy Gaton | Edit Post
Growing up is hard to do, as all of us who have gone through this process know first hand. As children, our limbs literally grow centimeters overnight, and our minds expand exponentially faster. It is quite a challenge for parents and educators to keep up with the voracious development of any child, and this has always been the case, no matter where one grew up.
Unfortunately, during my early childhood development in America, it seemed like my parents and teachers were just too burned out to even try and keep pace with my growth spurts, both emotionally and physically. I always wore pants too short and was given puzzle games too simple to keep me puzzled for more than a moment. 1960's public education in the west had already begun its decline, spiraling downward into the morass it finds itself in today, where young students are hardly safe in the classroom, fighting off sexual predators and gun-toting classmates, right along with the struggle to learn the three R's (reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic).
Yet there is good news in this part of the world, as my totally unscientific study shows: Nepali children are still wonderful, and are getting a good education if enrolled in school. Of course, Nepal still has the problems of child slavery and cruel corporal punishment (to name a few), but considering the alternative of a western-style education: spoiling, sexual abuse, and doctrine indoctrination, I know which style I would choose if I were a parent today. I would enroll my kid in Little Angels KTM over Miramonte Elementary School, California – any day of the week!
For me, Pink Floyd's words still ring true today for youngsters in the west, as it did when I was 13 and high on acid, whilst boinking my younger "girlfriend":
"We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall."
This not-so quiet song of exasperation is what I grew up with, but not so with the kids in Dhobighat / Lalitpur, who where not depressed at all this New Year's day while redecorating the neighborhood with a little bit of paint and lots of laughs. It didn't take a lot of prodding for Alice Anne Gordon, a local expat, to round up the kids and local shop owners (Swayam, Sanjol, Priya, Binita, Alisha, Ukesh, Ritika, Suhanjan, Amrita, Nita, Nira, Sanjita, Jayraj, Amisha, Yunisha, Urmila, Suraj, Sudan, Suman, Sujan and Sudhir) for a bit of mural painting. These troopers turned some drab old walls surrounding the dhara into uplifted works of art that just makes everyone smile as they walk by.
Its this spirit of youth and beauty that I see everyday in Nepal – from kids mural painting to rows of cleanly pressed school kids in uniforms singing songs – that give me hope for the next generation growing outward from this country. I know the UNICEF indicators don't look so hot on paper (for example, the Primary School Survival Rate to Last Primary Grade is only 62%) but my gut tells me that with kids achieving literacy at a combined boy/girl rate of 82%, things can't be all that bad. I'd say of my American classmates, that at least 2 in 10 couldn't read or write either by graduation, and in fact, 2 in 10 did not even survive high school without being raped, beaten, drugged or killed by their own or other's hand.
So here's a shout out to all the children of Nepal: keep up the good work with that glowing and optimistic attitude, listen to your elders, and continue to live a safe and healthy life, for the rest of your blessed life. We are all out here rooting for ya!
Who the heck is he?
- Jiggy Gaton
- lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.