Saturday, May 20, 2006

tension in the time of RESULTS....

tension in the time of RESULTS....

Just when the hot weather gets you wondering about just how high the temperature is
going to soar this year, folks normally look forward to two things,. One is the impending rainy season, and the falls in temperatures. Two, academic results , all due in late May, early June.

Every year, "counselling' types get into high gear around this time. The 10th class results and 12th class results are the most traumatic things happening .

Just have a look at the news articles in the papers. These two exams have been unneccesarily hyped over the last several years, results appear in the papers, with interviews about how the toppers studied, and photos of smiling parents, basking in their childs success. Schools with good reslults get ready to get choosy about new admissions, prospective good students rush in, and there is the old demand and supply situation all over again.

Behind all this glitz and glamour lie the stories of various children, who have been traumatically affected by the pressure to succeed. The sky is supposed to fall if they do not get into medicine or engineering. Sports activities are curtailed, TV's are packed away in their boxes, the child sits glued to his or her tuition classes/books, only to emerge for meals, for which again, there are counsellors advising you on what to cook. If you are appearing for any entrance exams like IIT, then its even worse. For a set up, where just the sheer numbers and the caliber of people applying make your chances of getting in, equiavalent to a chance of winning a crore in a lottery, failure is a hard thing to handle .

And so you read in the papers about someone getting home after collecting results from the school, and the next thing you know, the child , unable to take the pressure of facing "failure' has hung and killed himself, while the family was out. Recently one read of a girl in Delhi who jumped from an upper floor of her apartment building unable to take the pressure. Even where the child has succeeded in the entrance exam like IIT, it is not unknown for the entire family to be in mourning, because the rank is not high enough to get the choice branch of computers.

It is this mindset that made hundreds of readers write in to newspapers recently, when the government started to think on the lines of making mathematics optional , in say, highschool
. YOU MUST HAVE MATHEMATICS ! ITS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL IN DAILY LIFE ! HOW CAN YOU REMOVE ALGEBRA AND GEOMETRY ? they wrote. I wonder if they ever think of how many vegetable vendors have done , say algebra; or how many street food vendors specialised in arithmetic. maybe it never strikes them , that education is often need based, and when you need something badly, like an ability to calculate, you develope motivation/shortcuts, and you learn, NEVER to forget it, exam or no exam.

All this while, a school system
called the National Institute of open Schooling (NIOS) has existed since 1989, initiated by the Ministry of Human Resorce Developement, Government of India. It has accredited centres all over India, is loosely based on the CBSE system. The redeeming feature is your ability to choose a variety of subjects, othet than Mathematics, Physics , Chemsitry, etc. Only English is compulsory. You have the flexibility of doing the subjects at your own pace, and exams are held twice a year. Textbooks are provided by the government on registration.

Before anyone pipes in about "but who recognises these institutions", let me say, that Universities on Mumbai, Pune, all IIT;s SNDT, and hundreds of Universities in all the Indian states recognise the NIOS . Of course, you need to satisfy the admission criteria to these universoities etc, as per their individual requirements, subjectwise.

This system is a boon, for those who are working, are training for sports and unable to give regular time to studying, as well as some, who for some reason, are unable to handle the existing regimented state board system.

And there is no concept of "topping the board". No one is declared first and second . No interviews with winners. And humanities subjects, commerce subjects, art, vocational training subjects, are all treated on par. No looking down on subjects.

Most of all, a child wilting and struggling under the existing exam pressure, for whatever reasons, pathological,social or genetic, learns to flower in this system, boosting self esteem , and in the final analysis, CONFIDENCE.

I should know. My daughter did this system.

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