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The Exam Culture In India Is So Toxic, It Has To Change!

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Being In The Education Sector For A Couple Of Years Has Made Me Realise That Marks Alone Cannot Decide Our Future

It’s been almost four years of completing my post-graduation in Zoology, but still, the trauma of appearing for the exams and its outcome haunts me. Also, my being a private tutor for the last 8 years and being in the education sector for a couple of years now has made me realize that marks cannot decide our future.

Representational image. Photo by Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

On becoming mature, I have come to learn that life, in general, is pretty different from merely scoring good marks in high school and other exams. To lead a healthy life, you need an overall development of physical, mental, spiritual and societal growth. I am not saying that marks are not important. Of course, they are important, but in the case of high school marks, I feel that their significance is much exaggerated.

You need to score good marks only to get admitted to a college and the rest depends upon you. You cannot make a career of those hi-fi certificates ornamented with nice marks. There are many instances out to show you that a college or even a school drop-out can be a social influencer or have a greater impact on our later lives. Not better than anyone can make me believe it when I myself have gone through a similar experience.

I was a mediocre student with high expectation at school. I scored pretty decently in the 10th state board examination. I was quite sure to get admitted to my dream college in Assam. However, unlucky enough, that very year the cut-off was so high that I could not get admitted to it. I could not believe my ears after discovering the news. I kept on howling for the next few days as I was super upset. Next, I got admitted to a junior college which was a well-known one in our state. I made up my mind to study hard and appear for the medical entrance examinations.

Sometimes, Situations Just Don’t Work In Your Favour

One thing, I want to mention here is that I always wanted to become a doctor. I started studying in a serious manner but I could not do well. My parents got slightly offended with my report card as we all know junior college fees’ sucks and there were extra private tuition and other stuff to be looked upon with money.

My relatives started poking my parents about the expenses they were bearing with me for my studies. The environment was not good at home. I kept feeling very low. With all that happening around me I appeared on the 12th state council exams which I passed out with not so flying colours but an above-average one.

The environment was not good at home. I kept feeling very low. Representative image only.

My parents became overwhelmed by learning about my results, hence regained the hope for me within them and thereafter got me admitted into a coaching class for writing the medical entrance test. After trying hard, I could not clear. That day was the doomsday of my life. I shall never ever forget that in my life.

My parents and almost all my relatives scolded me very badly. I shall never forget my uncle asking me to leave the house forever in my life. They unabashedly scolded us including my parents because a lot of money went after a girl and she could not end up being a doctor. It’s not that I was not upset- I was upset too because I always wanted to become a doctor throughout my life till then. I was shattered, and so were my parents.

Only When You Think Your World Is Ending, It Might Open Up!

I would also not blame my parents because they expected a lot from me. They invested their hard-earned money in me. They got swayed away by the relatives. As we all know time is the best healer we can ever have, things became normal after a few months. We could overcome the trauma and they got me admitted to a good government college. At this point in time, my parents became more supportive of me. They encouraged me to do graduation and do something else in life.

They told me that becoming a doctor is not the only thing to do in life. My world had not ended but had only opened up then. Had they been not there by my side, I couldn’t have completed my graduation and post-graduation.

I completed the courses with good scores. I also had paper publications and different projects to my name all because of the support I received from my parents and teachers. Meanwhile, during my college days, I have also started teaching students privately.

I could make a good income and now my income is so decent that I can support them financially. All thanks to God! Now, I hold my head high in the extended family and society. Now, they feel happy and satisfied that their daughter is earning enough to feed herself and the family. I must say that marks do matter for competitive exams like banking, UPSC etc.

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My world had not ended but had only opened up then! Representative image only.

However, to pressurize the students for getting extremely good scores in high school is not alright. At that age, students are in a vulnerable mental and physical state. They cannot handle so much tension. They have a tremendous negative effect on health too. Parents should try to polish their potent not expect high marks from them. Even if they expect they should keep it a secret.

Rather, they should focus on the overall improvement of the career. In this case, I feel that the unnecessary interference of relatives and outsiders should be avoided. If not in this matter, they will definitely interfere in some other sectors. They always go by their trait.

Parents, Your Ward’s Life Is Much More Important Than Your Wishes And Desires

And regarding admission to colleges, folks and their peers should not worry because there are “n” number of colleges which provide good education even if they may not be counted in the top notches. After all, we should not run after brands. While writing this article, I recall a tragic incident of a class 10 student. While appearing in the board exams, in English paper, he tore a paper off his answer sheet.

He did this blunder because he wrote an extra question and in order to omit that he tore the paper when he could have simply put a cross mark over the solution. He did this out of sheer nervousness as he was under the constant pressure of scoring very high marks from the parents. Because of all this hassle, his result was withheld and he, unfortunately, died by suicide.

This extreme step had to be taken by the innocent soul because of the high expectations of parents. At last, I would like to urge all the parents out there that your ward’s life is much more important than your wishes and desires. We should not forget that at the end of the day it’s an individual’s life. We have no right on them. We can only guide them. So, let them fly and do whatever they want to. We would not have got an Abdul Kalam, had his father not allowed him to go for higher studies leaving all the other essential stuff in Rameshwaram.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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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.

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.”

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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.

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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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