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Holiday homework! A bane for both parents and children. I thought I had graduated to the no holiday homework status but not quite as I am now parent to young Utpal who has reached class IV. Spending summers chiding children to get on with their task and then having to spend hours with paper and glue was never my idea of fun. But that is exactly what I am doing this summer. The two typed sheet that spells out all the work to be completed sits on my desk. Lists of what is needed have been made and several trips to local stationery shops have ensured that we have all that is needed.

The homework is daunting. Daily pages of handwriting from both English and Hindi newspapers, essays and grammar charts, tables and sums, models and art work, the list is endless and I am at a loss as the little chap has another definition of holiday all together: playing, watching TV, going out and eating! An unbelievable time is spent in coaxing and negotiating. Every day a small amount is done after a battle royal. We are getting there at a snail’s pace and immense wear tear on Ma’amji’s nerves. Maybe this is the plight of every parent.

Not quite as was revealed in an article in a leading weekly. Believe it or not you can now get your homework outsourced if you are willing to pay the price. Children do not spend time on creating models and projects: they take a trip to Nai Sadak and buy the home assignment, or go for a package deal: 4500 Rs is a total homework package. Reading the article made me uncomfortable. This approach to me is cheating, or should one say cheating with the blessing of your parents. Taking professional help definitely helped my children get top marks admits a mother quite guilelessly making one shudder. If I was the teacher I would give higher marks to a clumsy project that is undoubtedly the work of a 9 year old then to a perfectly executed one that is undoubtedly again the work of a professional adult! But it seems that in school today that is not the practice.

One could argue about the ethicality of those in the homework business. But it is simply a question of demand and supply. It seems that there are enough clients to make the business lucrative. Yet one is compelled to ask whether one is teaching the children to take the easy way out, a lesson they will continue to follow and one that can have disastrous consequences. A first lesson in corruption, speaks volumes for the kind of society we have become.

I agree that the holiday home work is tedious and irksome. I also agree that if you have planned to travel during the holidays completing the home work is close to impossible. But does it mean you need to cheat. Wouldn’t a simple letter the school be sufficient to explain unfinished homework? To my mind the only people who would need assistance to complete the holiday homework would be the brave underprivileged parents who tighten their belt till it hurts in order to send their progeny to a ‘good’ school. But how can they pay the money required? To complete the homework of our boarding school kids, we have a assigned a teacher whose sole task is to help the children finish their work at no cost of course!

For Utpal it is good old Maa’mji and her rusted knowledge. Thank God for Google! So the next days will be filled with cutting and pasting and making charts and models. Somehow I am beginning to look forward to it and if all is not done then tant pis, one has to remember that holidays are meant to be fun and that is what is important.