Looking at life beyond grades
NOW THAT the dust of excitement generated by the CBSE results has settled down and `normal' life has resumed, let us all take a moment to reflect upon a very serious problem. A problem that literally is a matter of life and death.
The class XII results which apparently are the `single' source of determining the future of 17 year olds across the country seem to be significant enough to drive those very 17 year olds to another phenomenon, that of suicide.
The act of suicide and its causes do not remain a case for the discipline of psychology anymore. Each year class XII students killing themselves a day or two after the results are announced is an unhealthy social phenomenon and not just a stray case of individual deviant behaviour. This is a serious situation that calls for sincere attention.
These suicide cases cannot be treated as aberrations where each successive year on an average 10 students take their own lives because of `depression' due to results. That is a naοve and to a certain extent insensitive approach to the problem. The causes are much more deep rooted than just the young person's frame of mind on the day of the results. Suicide in this case is not an act of impulse.
We have to pay attention to the framework within which the development both academic and personal of the young people (who have the fortune of attending high school) is taking place in our society. What are the kind of pressures that we are imposing both on our young and ourselves? As parents, is it our own sense of lack of accomplishment in certain cases or the desire to see our success level being taken forward by the offspring?
As educators, at what cost do we want to see our institution top the `merit-list'? We have to realise that schools merely do not possess marks fetching machines but potential painters, artists, actors, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, development workers and most important normal human beings who require careful grooming. Their potential in no way can be judged by one final examination that is taken at the end of the school career.
Without going into the details of what is lacking in our entire education system, it is more practical to suggest what can be done by all of us whether we are educators, parents or simply just the members of civil society to put an end to this macabre phenomenon of members of our future generation ending their lives for a few digits written on paper.
To begin with, a student cannot suddenly fail in the class XII board exams. He or she has to show a trend of not doing too well in the preceding school exams as well. That is the stage where corrective measures should be taken right away. We are prompt in bestowing awards on our toppers, extra-curricular activists and ace sports-people. But we need to show the same promptness in paying attention to the kind of problems that students consistently not doing well face. It is easy to brand a `problem child' but the onus falls on the adults to find out the cause of the so-called problem and make an effort to improve the situation.
Similarly schools have to realise that their prestige does not depend upon a few students getting 90 per cent (which by the way is fast becoming the new 60s) but on how many of their students have benefited by their overall training and, more importantly, enjoyed school.
Parents/guardians have to be a part of the entire schooling process of the child. This means more than just being part of the parents-teachers meets. Grades should not determine the intelligence level of a student. Nobody deserves to be demoralised just because of something as transient as grades.
What must be explored are other talents that each child possesses. Most importantly children should be encouraged to do diverse reading. This makes them think out of the box, propels initiative and enhances perspective. Such a way of life is sure to produce a personality that knows a world beyond just marks and grades, someone who is aware of his or her other strong points and is confident of taking on life irrespective of the score in Physics or Political Science or Business Studies.
I write as no authority but simply as a concerned member of civil society. I might not know personally the families that have lost their children but their grief is deeply felt by me. We all need to take responsibility to understand and always remember that a happy and meaningful human life is much more valuable than a certificate or a few numbers.
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