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By UNICEF Office, Tamil Nadu
Far from preparing young adolescents for their futures in college, university and the workplace, board exams in Class X and Class XII of Indian schools have devolved into high-pressure events, which are reportedly leaving significant impacts on students’ mental health and wellness.
In the last few years, the conversation in media, new media and public spaces has adapted to understand these impacts and to work collaboratively to change the toxic system in which children in the last few years of their childhood get embroiled. But add to the mix a deadly disease that’s caused children to retreat into the safety of their homes, and things get much worse.
D. Kavitha, 15, an inmate of the Marialaya Children’s Home, Broadway, and a student of Standard X at the St.Ann’s Girls Higher Secondary School, is facing this doubled stress. “I am preparing for my Standard X Board Exams. I am very stressed because of this. My friends who are in Standard XII are so relaxed as they have completed their exams.”
Life in lockdown isn’t devoid of activities for her though. She’s engaged in so much more in the children’s home. “I am fully occupied. I make handicrafts and teach other children to make greeting cards, paper bags and pen stands. I also spend some time writing poems and drawing – these are my hobbies. So I don’t feel bored.”
But added to the stress of the upcoming board exams and the fear that there won’t be enough time to prepare after the lockdown ends, is the fear of the ‘killer disease’ itself, as she calls it. “Coronavirus spreads through the air,” she says. “We pray every day that the patients affected by the Coronavirus get well soon.”
Meanwhile, life without her school friends also makes Kavitha yearn for school to start again. “I miss my friends from school. I feel like seeing and chatting with them.”
Asked what she would want most once the lockdown lifts, Kavitha says her only wish is that schools are made safer, and students’ various needs are met. According to her, schools should organise assignments and activities to ensure the safety of all students—both physically and emotionally.
Mental health conditions among students preparing to take their Class X and XII examinations in India has been a topic of discussion for a few years now. In the light of COVID-19, the stress and anxiety is bound to increase among children, as in Kavitha’s case. Have a similar experience to share? Write your COVID Diary today!