I remember that I was a mere thirteen-year-old then, unaware of this ginormous term, ‘stress’. It was way back in 2017, the year my cousin sat for the boards. I was still in the seventh grade, not necessarily aware about what boards meant.
The most vivid part about all of this was the day when the bold headlines on the newspapers and the continued streams on the channels, screamed out: “Council results to be declared today!” My brother scored a whooping percentage and was lauded by everyone included in ‘family and friends’. Soon, I was encouraged to follow in his steps.
But, who exactly are these ‘family and friends’? Are they the ones who continue bombarding you with calls relentlessly to know how successful you’re going to be in the future, as per their assumptions? Or are they those vicious doorway thwackers who remain standing before the portals, even before the results are out?
The year you’re going to sit for the boards is something that brings blood down your spine. But why should that be? Students should learn to enjoy exams, as our prime minister says, like festivals, because they are indeed the key to a vibrant tomorrow!
Students are not responsible for the mental pressure they face. It’s all about society, the ‘chachas’, ‘chachis’, ‘mausa’, ‘mausis’ and hundreds of other people you have in your address books. Once the dates of the declaration of results are made public, you receive thousands of messages and hundreds of calls from these ‘relatives’, conveying their best wishes to you, for the results.
What about the big day itself?
Even before the student themself is prepared to log into the server, these people sit in front of their 32-inch television screen, gaping at the names that are declared. If you manage to reach the top ranks, they’ll flatter you so much that you’ll be bursting out in seconds. But what happens whene you’re not within the list of these top-notch people?
Well, a thorough analysis follows.
First, often before you yourself analyse the results, they call you up and enquire whether the total amounts to more than 95%! If yes, congratulations! You lie among the legendary elites, who’ve decisively won a victorious battle. You’re hauled praises at!
But, that’s not the end.
They continue taking up the names of your friends, your siblings, cousins and all other relatives and acquaintances you have in your locality and compare their scores with yours. If you’re short of any of these aforementioned guys, they revoke their earlier praises and pronounce an ‘it could have been better! You’re just three marks short of taking over XYZ!’
Good heavens! How does that ‘three marks’ even matter? Well, I’ll be very honest. Each student expects a certain amount of percentage after their exams are over. They are satisfied if they keep up to it and are crestfallen if they do not! It is this ill-mannered comparative society, that brings about stress, pain and depression.
Now, for the ‘three marks’. Yes, this matters when you’re going to get admission into a top college after your twelfth. But wait, did I just say ‘top college’?
In fact, a college is considered a ‘top college’ once it produces students who are exemplary in their fields. This does not require 95%+ marks. Why would that decide who you’ll be?
In my case, parents were much cooperative about boards. Well, this year, I had appeared for the class tenth examinations, and yes, I did fairly well, securing, as they call it, ‘95%+’! But, I’ve seen parents of the ones who ranked fairly less than their expectations queuing up at the office to investigate where the ‘one’ mark was deducted! This is complete nonsense! It does not teach a child to accept defeat. Rather, it teaches them that fetching good marks will make their parents laud them.
Talking about the consequences, an estimation published by the Hindu, on January 29 this year, points out that “one student dies by suicide each hour!”
People might question me as to why I jump to such drastic conclusions. It’s because I believe this is true. Today, when one ranks first in tenth boards, they see their parents happy, smiling broadly at them. Tomorrow, they aspire to get another 99%. If they succeed, their aspirations increase. They sit for the competitive exams (whatever those be) and aspire to rank again. This time, by a slight mistake of theirs, they fail! They feel like their world gets shattered, smashed to pieces which can never be reformed. In a very strenuous decision, some may even die by suicide.
It is because they had dreamt of something extraordinary, something beyond their capabilities, something their parents and the ‘friends and relatives’ had taught them to. When they fail to achieve that, to them, everything is broken, and in a faltering manner, the nation loses a bright future.
What about the parents and the ‘friends and relatives’?
They weep and mourn, without realising the enormous pressure on the child. It’s then that they ask themselves, was it not necessary to teach their children to be average? Was it not necessary to teach them to fail, to encourage them when they fail to keep up to their expectations? Was it not necessary to teach them that even territories of Alexander fade with the dust one day, and it is life, what you should learn to deal with?