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Is Dissuading Students Towards A Career Based On Past Academic Performance Right?

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By Anurag Butoliya:

The educational institutions of any country are the temples of learning . It is the responsibility of any educational institution to shape and direct the youth of the country and thus make them productive for nation’s economy. An extension to the basic responsibility of educational institutions could be that if they have been entrusted to shape the future , they also have the responsibility of dissuading students to undertake the fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed. Certainly any child or even a young individual spends a considerable section of his/her student life at campuses both at school and university, in this way the schools and colleges become like a “second home” to any child.

There can be a debate whether educational institutions should use a students’ past experience with a particular student as a predictor of the future course of action , whether he or she should be allowed to undertake a particular study or not. As an action it is not a hundred percent successful formula to use the past experience to judge the future.

There have been countless examples in history which enunciate this fact. Thomas Alva Edison was regarded as a stupid student by his teachers and the teachers advised him to take up subjects in which he would succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality , but Edison succeeded in an area which requires scientific temper not pleasant personality.

One must understand that a teacher’s view about a particular student is just an opinion, which may differ from others. Also it is up to the student to decide whether he/she accepts a particular opinion about himself or herself. The basic duty of any educational institution is to create an atmosphere of learning and to instill a sense in students that they are a people of infinite potential. Such mere ‘tagging’ of students as one lot would succeed only in mathematics and other in the area of liberal sciences would never create an atmosphere of collaborative learning in the students. This would certainly prove to be counter productive for multi talented students who may be good at variety of subjects.

One should always keep in mind that every student is different and has different capabilities . There are students who are able to learn quickly and at the same time others take time. Some students may be able to do complex calculations very quickly while others may take hours, but both are reaching at correct answers. Taking such parameters , by educationalists as a parameter to judge students’ potential is flawed and dissuading students based on such parameters would be blasphemy.

The psychological aspects of such dissuasion are even more dangerous. Consider dividing students based on the fields in which they are unlikely to succeed. It is just a modern form of racism and creating classes amongst student. It would be just regression to the previous era , the only difference earlier the parameter used to be the descend , now the parameter is “educational success rate”.

People would argue that the psychological tests would be a more scientific approach towards finding in which area a particular student would succeed , but the psychological tests can only give a broad picture. It can only tell one that the student may be good at sciences , but can never tell whether he/she would be good at electrical engineering or mechanical engineering. Moreover, the psychological tests are not error free. There is always a margin of error in the testing. Thus if an educational institute uses such a scientific approach too for a student’s future they may not reach a valid conclusion. Thus, basing the decision of dissuading student for taking up a particular course on such tests would too would be an incorrect decision.

Whether a student will succeed at a particular course of study or not , it only depends on the student. It is highly recommended that a student must be free from any outside influence be it educational institutions and even parents , which he/she decides to take up a particular subject . The educational institution should play a more constructive role in a student’s decision by appreciating his/her decision and guiding him forward . The educational institution should always try not to act as dictators , and influence such decisions, justifying it by their experience as past experience with one particular student cannot be used as a general truth for every future decision.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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