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Three guiding force mantras A.I.R. — Accountability, Integrity, Responsibility. These magic words should become our national mantra if India is to survive and prosper. It is as essential and mandatory for the nation as air is to every living being. Through the columns of EducationWorld I particularly appeal to parents, students, and especially teachers to assimilate, absorb and enhance the quality of our educational institutions, the laboratories that shape the destiny of future generations by making this mantra the very breath of their existence. Accountability. As parents we are accountable to our own parents, ancestors, to the community, to society for enabling our children to blossom physically, mentally and spiritually, by giving them security, joy and self-confidence through love and reassurance, encouraging them to realise their potential and achieve their very best. It is not enough to provide them the basic necessities of life in the form of food, clothing, housing, education, entertainment and think our duties are over. We ourselves have to be role models to our children. Teachers too are accountable to parents who enthusiastically entrust their children into their care, in the most sensitive and crucial years of their life. Between the ages of two and six, maximum growth of brain cells takes place within all human beings. As teachers we are accountable for their physical, emotional, mental and creative progress through school. Building self-esteem as also survival, learning and social skills in an atmosphere of joy, “where the mind is without fear” is the essence of the teaching-learning process. Teachers are also accountable to school managements and answerable to the community and society. They have to be perfect role models too, as students revere their teachers and tend to blindly follow in their footsteps, imitating them implicitly. As trusted mentors, they cannot afford to be idols with feet of clay or hypocrites, preaching this and practising something else. Permanent values have to be instilled in children from a young age, through a process of osmosis. Teachers must always remember that they are accountable to parents, schools, the children entrusted in their care, and even to society, for they can make or mar a whole nation! Children — especially senior school children — too are accountable to parents, elders and teachers, who invest their wealth, emotional and intellectual energies in them, by shaping into value-based, educated, responsible citizens. Integrity. Is this word not synonymous with honesty, reliability, credibility, trust, faith etc? I always tell my students that integrity leading to credibility, reliability and trust is the most essential quality for lasting success and achievement. We have heard of students playing truant but what is alarming is when teachers absent themselves from class, while recording in worksheets or attendance registers that they have attended school and even given marks! In the same spirit, parents must be truthful and frank with their children and not deceive them with false promises, or hide the real state of affairs at home, be it financial, social or emotional. Only then will children have faith in their parents and confide in them when they are in trouble. Responsibility. This differs from accountability, in the sense once you assume the responsibility of parenting, teaching or studying, you have to carry out your duty. As parents, we must own responsibility for what our children grow to be, physically, emotionally and socially. We have to do our duty impartially, and own up if necessary to the mistakes we may have made through blind or misplaced affection or misjudgements as parents. As teachers, we are employed by institutional managements to assume the responsibility of shaping and developing children. As such we have no right to neglect the children entrusted in our care. We owe it to parents and school managements, to discharge our duties sincerely, even under conditions of stress or crisis. We also have to be role models and not allow our responsibility as teachers to be overruled by other considerations under any circumstances. As for students, they too have a responsibility to fulfill the expectations of their parents, many of whom sacrifice their time, attention, wealth and even health, to discharge their responsibilities. Once we have accepted them, we must carry them out, willy nilly, like “the boy who stood on the burning deck from whence all but he had fled”. I vividly remember when Vijaya, the Raja of Ramnad’s daughter and I, as Seva Dal volunteers were given the responsibility of campsite duties during the Avadi Congress in 1956, addressed by President Tito, Pandit Nehru and other VIPs. As security volunteers we prevented Lal Bahadur Shastri from entering the VIP platform, as he was not wearing his badge. The police chided us, but Shastri complimented us on our sense of duty and waited for his assistant to bring his badge, wore it and then proceeded to the platform. Our teacher, who had given us both this responsibility, was so immensely pleased with our duty-conscious, responsible action that for the rest of the days, we were posted on the VIP platform as volunteers. It is discipline like this that can bring out the best in you. So don’t forget the three mantras of accountability, integrity, responsibility. Let them be your guiding force as you move towards your life goals. (Dr. Y.G. Parthasarathy is the legendary director of the Padma Seshadri Bal Bhavan group of schools, Chennai)
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