This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Deepika Kapur. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Our Education System Divides All Our Lives Into ‘Pass’ And ‘Fail’

Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge s fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid.” Everyone is different, has different abilities,and different personalitIES. No two people are same, hence their dreams are as different as chalk and cheese. The Great Indian Education system fails to realise this simple fact. As a student, you are not allowed to fail; you are not allowed to perform badly in any subject; scoring 95 in maths will never make anyone overlook the fact that you got a 70 in social studies. As shallow as all of this may sound, it’s the harsh reality of a student’s life.

The Great Indian Education System pushes you to chase high scores in everything, because of the fact that it runs on comparisons. Our parents have always been comparing us to the prodigal son of that fabled Mr. Sharma, whom we have actually never even met. The biggest problem with comparisons is that it never ends, especially if it’s between two very different people.

When Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) was implemented in 2015, every child was expected to be as good at craft as they were at drawing human ventricles. It was basically implemented to emphasize the “all-round development of a child”. But it failed miserably. Instead of taking off the load off of students’ shoulders, it sank them deeper into the ground. The problem? Instead of polishing their abilities, it focused on pushing them to be perfect at everything. Even though it has been removed now, the idea of achieving ‘perfection’ remains.

Every person cannot be good at everything, and that’s quite natural. Remember, we are human beings! In this system, it’s more about quantity than quality. It all comes down to the question, “But how much did you score?” No one cares about the amount of effort you have put in, how you conceptualise your thoughts, how you worked to understand facts and figures. It’s all about the way you fill in answer sheets. And it simply doesn’t matter whether you are a school-going chap or a university student, the flaws run all through the veins of the system. Even teachers are more focused on getting the syllabus completed within a given frame of time than they are on imparting knowledge. This means the students focus on scoring and the means are enormous, from cramming to downright cheating at times, just to pass the so called ‘exams’.

Exams were meant to check how much you learnt in a classroom, but it is tightly bound to the words “pass” and “fail”. The biggest problem about this system is that it has made failing sound like a crime. No one likes failing, but that’s a part of life. Every great person has faced failure at some point of time in their life, but here, if you fail, it makes you feel like you have committed a crime. The result matters more than the efforts here, and that changes the game totally, and you become a totally different person.

The idealistic approach to this scenario? As students, you need to change. T you, education should mean learning and growing rather than passing or failing. This starts the day you realise that you have all the means to do it, you just try. Search for things that intrigue you; ask how you can achieve your dreams. There are people, websites, and apps like Edvizo, which are trying to revolutionise the whole concept of education. Even if you start from scratch, these can help you choose a field of your interest. Moreover, it can guide you, from recommending the best institutes available to connecting you with the right people. You just have to start and do your own bit.

Jumping into something just for the sake of it is no good. Plan first, then find ways to put your plans into action rather. Don’t give into peer pressure and imitate what everyone else is doing. Just because your choices are different doesn’t meant they are wrong. Find ways to implement what you want to do and never hesitate to ask; the right people will always guide you. After all, the right teacher can change your life, you just have to find one.

Don’t study just to pass exams, study to be a better version of yourself. Dream. Try and achieve things that you really feel passionate about. Believe me, it’s going to change your life in all the right ways.

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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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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