Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Examination Epidemic

In 2005, a student from my college jumped from a building to his death, because he failed in all his papers in that year. In 2007, another followed on the path of suicide, because he thought he had failed in his final year. These are just two instances of which I personally know but they are not one-off cases. Did you know that 5000 students across India committed suicide last year due to exam related stress? I often came across the news of suicides in newspapers but the number comes as a total shocker (a reason why I am writing so soon again). And yes, the number comes from a credible source in the form of NIMHANS and has been brought to public light by none other than NDTV 24X7.

Most youngsters are the life of their house. They should be brimming with ideas and energy. The future of the country is in their hands. On the contrary, they fall into the vicious circle of disappointment and depression that eventually drives them to the point of committing suicide.

It is easy to say it is a defeatist attitude and suicide is not the means of solving any problem, but the kind of pressure these students face is tremendous. It starts right with the people who you trust the most, your friends and family. The peer group always sets standards for itself which students try to match up. There is this pricking sense of inferiority that creeps in when you can't keep up with their pals. In addition, the heavy burden of expectations from your family, sometimes, purely aspirational, at others, a dire necessity is shattering.

At the root of the problem is the system of assessment employed in our country. The fate of a student's career is decided by one exam. Even if you have prepared extremely well, cold or fever on the day of the exam can lower your performance in the paper and become your Achilles' heel in those decisive three hours. Moreover, the pressure of preparing is such that in the board classes, student literally transform into learning machines, rather mugging machines, by hearting scores of pages, which they sometimes don't even comprehend. Coaching classes eat up into every holiday. There is no time for sports and recreation. People just stop living normally during that one year. The pressure is bound to grow then.

The hype is quite unnecessary. I have seen students who have done everything which a student normally would when in any other year and still come out with flying colours after the boards. In fact some have had more fun during the board years than otherwise, but it hasn't affected their performance. It is a state of mind. Be positive and put in your best considering the circumstances around you. The outcome is not in your hands.

The exams are about how you take to the pressure. Coaching classes can provide you the means to information, but at the end they can't accentuate your intelligence. It is important to not lose yourself in the process of gaining more marks. Your family and friends will understand when you are being pushed to the brink, but you need to talk to them to let them know. A suicide might solve the problem for you, but there are a lot of others around you who care for you and who have dreams for you. Don't disappoint them. It is just another exam and just another result.


Seeker of Truth said...

One of the unfortunate incidents mentioned occurred when I was still at college. At that time, there were serious discussions about the institution's role in a student's well-being and a suggestion about having an in-house counselling cell was raised. Has that been implemented in our college yet? Of course, the student community itself often rises to any occassion in informal circles, but establishing a formal counsellor's post will send the right signals about institutional commitment.

The Illuminator said...

I totally agree AI. The only measure our college took after Akhilesh's death was calling up the parents of student who had failed in one or more subjects before telling the student himself. But that is a preventive measure which only 'might' work.

No, there is no counsellor still, but it's high time they have one. They have kept academic counsellors (one counsellor ie a prof handles 4 students from each batch in the department) but it is for formality sakes (read accreditation).

We have started Special Interest Groups in college in our department that allow more informal senior junior interaction, but then they are not exactly counselling forums.

Mohan K.V said...

I randomly stumbled by your blog, and absolutely loved Robert Frost's poem in your 'on my mind, over matter' pane. Brilliant pick! :-)

The Illuminator said...

Thank u. I love it too. Though it was not originally my pick.

How do you stumble upon blogs as unpublicized as mine?? I don't see any known blogger on your links.

Thanx for visiting though.

Mohan K.V said...

@illuminator: I snuck my way in through a comment you had left on someone's blog a couple of degrees-of-separation away :-)

Pallavi said...

I can totally empathise with those depressed students..I had been through dat torture myself n it left me more bitter with the education system than enlightened.. People have just made a mockery of the whole system n the students are the ultimate losers.