Who is to be blamed when a student commits suicide due to academic pressure? Is it the academically oriented education system; is it a fault of the student who fails to fight against adversity or is it the ever demanding group of family and friends.
The prevalent education system is bitten by the dogma that mental growth is far more important and relevant than physical or spiritual growth. The calendar of events at any level of the system shows its unfulfilled hunger to constantly judge the well being of a student based on a few paltry numbers. And it is because of the system’s addiction for numbers that the whole relevance of education, which is to evolve any youngster into a responsible citizen of the society, is lost and gets reduced to a rat race where scoring is all that matters; by hook or by crook.
The level of competition which is prevalent right now is unprecedented. In such times, the 21st century student is expected to be well equipped in both intelligent quotient (IQ) as well as emotional quotient (EQ). On one hand the student is expected to be creative enough to keep up with the times while on the other there are expectations to demonstrate emotional stability to handle the stress of change.
But we need to realise that not everyone is a born Einstein or a Newton. Different individuals have different talents and different learning abilities. But the system places so much stress on book learning that all other talents get overshadowed by a person’s ability to memorize facts and then to reproduce them in the examination. There’s also the prospect of having to face unfavourable results. What does a student do in case he/she fares badly in an exam? Is suicide the only answer to this problem?
As for poor results, it is very important to put the marks that we obtain in our life’s perspective. Only then will we realise how small and insignificant portion of our life do they cover. They are merely stepping stones towards opening some doors that will help us achieve our goals. There isn’t going to be any shortage of opportunities in our lives. If one door shuts, be rest assured that another one will open soon. One must always keep in mind that the best learning in life usually happens from failure.
Finally, the third part of the system — “family”. Although their role is the most downplayed one, yet their impact on a student’s life is usually what determines the way he/she responds to the situations thrown by life. An ever demanding set of peers, who constantly pressurize a child to perform at the top most level, leave the child with very little choice in case the results dip on the wrong side of the line. On the other hand, parents who are supportive of their wards and are prepared to have their backs in case their pupil stumbles at any juncture, cultivate the importance of support and a never give up spirit which, in present times, is of utmost importance.
It is important that a child is taught to be competitive and made to challenge his/her abilities from time to time. But at the same time, a student must also be taught that winning isn’t everything. Going out there and giving your best is what matters. Success and failure are just classifications put up by the world to segregate our efforts. At the end of the day, a person’s biggest competitor is his own self.
In a country like ours, which accounts for the most number of suicides in the world (age group of 15-24), something needs to be done urgently. The change in the education system is not going to happen overnight. It will take some time. The policy makers are too busy with their own struggle to stay in power, to undertake definite actions for the system’s enhancement. What we, as individuals can do is work on the ‘student’ and ‘family’ part of the system? Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It is time we implement his saying and be more flexible in our manners to stop this uncalled loss of young lives.