Exams: Do or Die!!!

Posted on June 1, 2010 in Education

Kaushik Narasimhan:

Page 1 of the Times of India on the 27th of May allocated an entire column on a 14 yr old boy who topped this year’s IIT JEE Delhi Zone. The writer had showered lavish praise on this young genius and deservedly so, one might say, for having topped one of the most competitive examinations at an age when most children are busy pestering their parents for a new video game to play during the summer holidays.

Page 2 of the Times of India on the 27th of May allocated yet another column to a 17 yr old girl from a rural area who managed to top the state examination. A picture of her hugging with her parents rejoicing her new found success ran across page 2.

Page 3 and 4 of the Times of India on the 27th of May were dedicated to various interviews with photographs of such toppers, explaining to the readers how without hard work but just sheer consistent work and, of course, with the blessing of their parents and other such well wishers they could excel despite various difficulties. Also not to forget the coaching institutes who find this period the most rewarding to implement their marketing strategies and to give us a count of how many students they have so successfully helped achieve their goal splash across the paper advertisements portraying their success.

Page 5 of the Times of India on the 27th of May gets back to mundane, usual everyday happenings such as murders, accidents, corrupted officials, rape victims and plane crashes.

But amidst such eventful news a small column featured a small continuation to the exams saga with an article titled “Girl kills self; Suicides at city on day of results”.

And surprisingly there were no pictures, at least not with anyone smiling.

A short story of a girl burning herself at home with kerosene after failing in a subject seemed to have been cramped into the page. The article however was just small enough to not distract the parents reading out to their kids the success stories of their ideal role models.

The girl who burnt herself did die but not alone. With her on the same day 6 other children did commit suicide in their own ways in the very same city.

The National Crime Records Bureau statistics reflect the horrifying trend. Around 6,000 students commit suicide every year due to exam stress. The staggering fact being that half of them do so even prior to the examination unable to tolerate the fear of failure.

It’s not just the board exams that get the stress levels soaring in students. Entrance exams to professional courses that require extra coaching also have the same effect if not worse.

Kapil Sibal and his ministry last year produced revolutionary reforms by doing away with the class X board examination that left most the parents dumbfounded across the country. And coincidentally (?) no deaths were reported this year due the class X CBSE examination.

At a rate of 16 students a day committing suicide due to exam related stress (these being only those that are reported) something is to be done to bring an end to this madness. The scrapping of the class X exams being just a start, more action is still to be taken. The state examinations for class X students still continue to exist, with greater competition and larger amount of students taking them across the country.

The thought that not being able to solve trigonometry questions being enough a reason for these children to take their lives is disheartening and very depressing an issue.

Even with the help of several counselling help lines setup across the country some still take the drastic step to end their life. Delhi government’s Yuva counselling helpline co-ordinator in an interview had quoted ““It shocks you at times…the kind of calls that come. Children are so much under strain because of exams; then there is peer pressure and parental pressure. We get 80-100 calls every day from students who are so depressed that they want to commit suicide”. The helpline, which is functional from 7.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, has just six counsellors working on a rotation basis in morning and afternoon shifts. All counsellors – most of who are women – are professionally trained in counselling. But despite all their hard work, not every child can be heard, not every child can be saved. Something is to be done, and done quickly.

Unlike in the US, it’s not a faulty gun law that’s killing kids in India, it’s our very own society that we have built and so easily adapted to. It’s the system that we have created and accepted. There isn’t much we can do, is there?

Youth Ki Awaaz awaits your views on this sensitive oft neglected issue of Exams — A “ Do or Die battle”.

The writer is the senior correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz. He is based out of Raipur.