A shop to buy honesty from

  • Dr Ranjan Garg, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
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  • Updated: Jan 16, 2014 10:07 IST

You could be a teacher by chance but to learn, you have to grasp from all places from the cradle to the grave. Valuable lessons can come from anyone: your children, their friends, and the pupils you are assigned to teach.

Recently, I was at Bhai Puran Bhagat Singh Memorial School, an ordinary-looking small private centre at Rajewal village near Khanna in Punjab where 1,000 students of rural background read up to Class 12. The school president, Balbir Singh Rajewal, briefed me about the institution's most important objective: to inculcate in pupils the value of honesty.

For this purpose, the school has opened an "Honesty Shop". Run on a "no profit, no loss" basis, it has everything you'll find in a stationery store-notebooks, pens, pencils, scales, erasers, sharpeners, pencil boxes etc.-all but a salesman. Students can pick up any item but the mode of payment is unusual.

The shop keeps two boxes. The buyers write their names, roll numbers, and classes on slips of paper they drop into Box 1. The next day, the students bring the requisite money from home to deposit in Box 2 before pulling back their chits from Box 1. There never has been any discrepancy in accounts.

The idea and the way of teaching honesty filled me with joy, besides hope in the next generation. At home, I was lost in its happy thoughts when the restless voice of my son, 10, who reads in an elite urban school, reached my ears: "Mom! Someone stole my pen during recess!" "No!" I started wondering, "Now which school is ordinary? And who is creating better human beings?"

Isn't education without the values of life a rotten system of learning? Is this at the root of all immorality, crime, and violence in society? Should we allow schools to be run as business outlets?

Shouldn't we have an Honesty Shop in every school? Being a teacher, I believe that at the end of the day, God will not ask me how many of my students passed or failed. He will ask me where was I when they were up to something wrong.

Let's prepare ourselves for the answer.


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