February and March are probably the most tensed months in India. Over one crore students appear for CBSE, ICSE and state Board exams across the country every year. Although the students appearing for the Board remain the main actors, family members get equally involved in a supporting role. As it gets closer, it becomes the most talked annual subject among families and their social circuit. It reaches to a level where all the social and career pressure points are targeted towards students to perform. With a common method of testing students in class 10th and class 12th, the board exams sets the tone of competition among the students and families across the country.
As a number of students achieving 100 marks or close to 100 in the board exams are growing every year, social media gets flooded with families congratulating themselves if their ward scores over 90 per cent. We hardly hear about students who do score less than 90 per cent. They are not celebrated. Indian board exams have reached to a level, where self-worth of students is determined by the board results and not by other skills and talent they might possess. In the preparation of 10th and 12th exams, many students lose their inherent talents and potential, which are always lost with exam phobia.
The pressure begins in class 9th, when students are advised to concentrate more on academics and give less time to their extra-curricular activities. Both parents and teachers suddenly start treating youngsters in a way that many of them are unable to cope-up with the drastic changes in life. Their passion for sports, craze for music, love for arts- everything takes a back seat. This is the time when most of the girls quit sports and then they never get back to their childhood games and sports. There cannot be any valid reason why students should quit sports in order to do well in the studies. Various research show that sports help students in their studies. But there is a general myth that sports obstruct studies. Similarly, many students are forced to quit some of the hobbies they pursue at this age when they can learn fast. Quitting sports and abandoning hobbies can in fact obstruct physical and mental growth at the adolescent age, which many parents do not understand.
Coupled with immense pressure of studies and forced to quit what they love to do; the psychological health of many students is severely challenged during the preparation and after the results. In the absence of awareness, many parents are unable to see how their kids continuously fall on the slope in life, while they want them to gain in academics. Students off course do not understand the consequences as they are too young to read their own fate. The entire process of Board exams can be actually very disempowering for young minds.
The CBSE exams are starting today and students of other Boards will also appear for exams in February and March. The parents, the family members, the teachers and society should motivate students to take it easy and give their best. They would definitely do much better if they are not under pressure to perform. Many students commit suicide due to poor performance in Board exams. There is no direct connection between doing well in the Board exams and doing well in life thereafter.
We all need to understand that the Board exams are just a mean for students to move ahead to the next level of learning. The Board exams are not the end in life. There is a need to help students in creating a balance between studies and activities they want to pursue. The students should not be forced to the level, where they start realizing that only high score in the Board exams would determine their self-worth. This can be rather damaging. There are thousands of examples in our own country and in foreign countries where exams never acted as a barrier in human growth. Each child is unique and has tremendous potential to do well in life. We need to find ways to provide them enough exposure and platforms to enhance their potential in the fields of their interest rather than just judging them by common testing methods. A student with potential to become an excellent Sportsperson or an Athlete would not be able to score similar marks as someone who has inclination to become a Scientist or a Doctor. It is harsh to compare and contrast human potential and interest and that too at such an early age. Rather, as a country, we should aim to find ways to provide diverse opportunities to students so that they can excel in the field they want to choose.
If we really want to take care of our young minds and help them grow their interests and talents, we need to integrate sports, music, arts, theatre so on and so forth into the syllabus so that their pressure points in these exams can be reduced. We have been struggling as a country to reduce burden from the students, but we do not want to give-up age old exam methods and adopt experiential learning for the students. The current exam system promotes rote learning and thus is quite disempowering for individual mind. We will have to switch to experiential learning which will empower our young minds and will be truly liberating for them. In the meanwhile, as we will have to wait for the system to change, let us not pressurize our young students. As a young child, one needs to enjoy life and take exams in a stride that it will also pass. So will the results. Help them enjoy the process and support them in striking a balance. Dear students, you should also take it easy. You have much more to give to the Nation and not just the marks. Remember, many toppers are lost in the crowd and all those who did not do well in exams are not just wasting their life today. Neither success nor failure is permanent. They are equally contributing to the society and each individual is valued for the country.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.