Are children better off at school or in the streets serving as props on a national holiday?
Some 10,000 schoolchildren and university students will march in Tajikistan’s capital on March 21 to celebrate the traditional Persian New Year, Novruz, Dushanbe’s Asia-Plus news agency reports.
Practice sessions will be held outside of school hours, said the head of the city’s education department. The Education Ministry says rehearsals started this week, six weeks before the festivities.
What do parents think? Judging from the dozens of comments on Asia-Plus, many aren’t convinced preparations will remain strictly after-school activities. Nor are they so keen on seeing their children turned into living propaganda machines. And a lot of parents would rather the state spend more on education, the quality of which is abysmal, and less on parties. Almost 20,000 students participated in independence festivities last September, according to the article.
It’s long been custom in the former Soviet Union to make schoolchildren perform for the good and glory of the state. Whether it’s cotton that needs picking, litter that needs gathering, or flags that need waving, schoolchildren are an army of free labor at the government’s disposal.
Tajikistan’s children already miss a lot of school. This week, high schools across the country are closed for three days because of the extreme cold. That is, it’s so cold that the hats and jackets kids normally wear inside school buildings are just not enough. It’s no wonder they have a hard time focusing on their schoolwork.
Maybe Tajikistan’s leaders think so little of their education system that they figure putting the little tykes in the street gets more bang for the buck than keeping them in class.