Using the Thai cave rescue, Lt. Col. A Sekhar shares valuable lessons for educators, parents, governments, and the wider Indian society as a whole

“Nations do well when they are able to intrinsically respect and honor their soldiers and teachers, without diktats and mandates”, says Lt. Col. A Sekhar.



"To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crews are taking good care. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologize to the parents,"

Ekapol Chanthawong, 25, Assistant Football Coach Mu Pa, the soccer team trapped in a cave(now rescued)

“According to rescue officials, he is among the physically weakest in the group, in part because he gave the boys his share of the limited food and water they had with them in the early days.”

“He also taught the boys how to meditate and how to conserve as much energy as possible until they were found”


“Coach Ek acted responsibly in his capacity as an adult and a coach to take care of the children’s lives and well-being,” said one user.

“When we were kids we weren’t much better than this … we probably also did things that disappointed our parents. We should not praise them but forgive them,” said another user.

Thailand's trapped boys: careless or courageous?

The criticism spurred the Department of Mental Health to beg Thais not to take sides.

“The families should focus on proper parenting while society should not judge whether this was wrong or right but take this as an opportunity to learn,” it said in a statement, promising counselling for the boys once freed.


“If he didn’t go with them, what would have happened to my child?” said the mother of Pornchai Khamluang, one of the boys in the cave, in an interview with a Thai television network. “When he comes out, we have to heal his heart. | My dear Ek, I would never blame you.”

The events, quotes, fairly representative of the responses across Thai society, hold important lessons and encompass several teachable moments for educators, parents, Governments, and the wider Indian Society as a whole.

For Educators

Lesson 1

The ability to apologize unconditionally is a core value, for any human being; more so for educators. It is a demonstration of confidence, faith in oneself, and about the acceptance of mistakes.


 Do we do it enough? Even more importantly, do we ever do it unless we are under duress? My unpopular answer…sadly no…

Lesson 2

The key to the survival of the team was their trust and faith in their coach, along with their unshakable faith in spirituality.

India, as such a low trust country, is finding that trust in teachers and scholastic establishments are reducing by the day. Blaming the media is the easy option, yet the answer lies inside us, as empathetic, transparent human beings. Why we are unable to engender the trust of the wider community in ourselves is something for all of us to reflect, understand, and take corrective actions, however painful they can be.

For Parents


Lesson 3

Holistic, all-round development is the key to the survival of our children and succeed with élan, through life’s sternest tests. For our wards to do well, please give space to the School and the teacher to prepare her well for the hardships of life. Helicopter parenting fails you and your ward.

Pullela Gopichand, coach, trainer, mentor extraordinaire, during a conversation with me when he visited Atul Vidyalaya, in 2010,spoke with distress about rich, well to do, educated, highly googled parents advising him, nay directing him, as to how to conduct training, as they are ‘stakeholders’.

PV Sindhu was also there, and her parents were only there to motivate…Gopichand was in complete command and see where she is today…

I rest my case…


Lesson 4

Respect your teachers.

The parents of the students trapped inside the cave in Thailand have avoided bad mouthing the coach. They are, with compassion, talking about healing him…!

The increasingly cultivated disdain the parents have for the teachers is reflected in the attitude of students, both inside and outside the classrooms. Corporate words like customer, client etc fit ill in a scholastic context.

Here, the role of the parent is crucial.


Lesson 5

For the authorities, Government, political parties

The students are the future of India. Work for consensus; avoid partisan politics, knee-jerk reactions, blame games and build a workable, enduring education ecosystem.

The Thai authorities were remarkably restrained in their words, spoke less, avoided grandstanding, acted quickly, worked hard to reduce stress levels, and shot down with a firm hand, attempts at blame games.

For All of us


Finally, nations do well when they are able to intrinsically respect and honor their soldiers and teachers, without diktats and mandates. As a soldier educationist, it is a double whammy for me, for it is easy, yet deeply painful to answer in the negative.


Answers are complex…

Maybe next time…

About the author:


Lt. Col. (Retd.) A Sekhar is a dynamic, result-oriented soldier educationist with over 30 years of holistic experience in the areas of education, skill development, administration, leadership and HR at the highest leadership levels. A successful school leader, Col Sekhar has made his mark as a change leader in schools where the all-round development of the student is his forte.

Image courtesy – The West Australian


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