In pursuit of a bright future beyond marks
By S Maxwell Lyngdoh
"Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm". - Winston Churchill
The recent declaration of results by different educational boards in Meghalaya has yet again brought the eternal debate – do marks guarantee a bright future – into the forefront.
So, do good marks always guarantee a successful career? Scientifically, experts over the years have tried to instill into our psyche that human capabilities and abilities vary; just as we are all unique in our ways. Yet, when it comes to students’ exam results, the approach of parents and communities all over tends to overshadow this logic. And our young ones find themselves at the receiving end of this discourse. Do students deserve this pressure? Or is our educational system somewhere at fault in making the students understand the actual meaning of success?
The overall success of any school/educational institution is in producing students who would grow up to be responsible citizens - sensible human beings filled with compassion and good mannerism. In the long run, what matters are good values and contentment. According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, one in every five teenagers in India has a mental illness, and exam pressure is one of the primary contributors. An article titled “Marks Aren’t Everything’: Parents, You Need to Read This . . .” (Karelia, 2020), states that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) appointed 87 counsellors to attend queries of students on a toll-free number. Of the total 1,356 calls they received, 619 were made to seek psychological counselling, revealed CBSE Senior Public Relations Officer, Rama Sharma. He further added that anxiety, nervousness, lack of concentration, and academic pressure exerted by parents were some of the common issues faced by the students.
The belief that ‘exam marks are the benchmark that decides one’s future’ has caused more suicidal deaths among students in our country than any disease. In some cases, it's the educational institutions that exert more pressure than the students’ families because the former is more concerned about revving up their brand’s reputation. During such a situation, the students are left with no platform to vent their grievances, worries, and talk about their uncertainties; often leaving a deep scar in their psyche.
Another contentious issue in this regard is the admission criteria followed by educational institutions. While most reputed institutions absorb the toppers, those with low scores and percentages are forced to either wait for “waiting lists” or are simply out of the race. Fortunately, some universities in Meghalaya do not practice this criterion and enables students to join professional courses even with low percentages.
More often than not, parents, wanting to realise their dreams through their kids, exert undue pressure on their children to excel in a particular subject or field in which they are often not interested. This is followed by excessive comparison with their peers coupled with the fear of ultimatums, should they fail to meet society’s expectations. The worst sufferers are students from rural areas and underprivileged backgrounds. Deprived of proper guidance and career planning, the majority of such students depend on a learned neighbour, local guardian, family members to help them decide on what to pursue and unknowingly, take a plunge into the pool of expectations.
The need of the hour is to change this mindset of ‘marks’ and ‘percentages’. It has already done enough damage for those at the receiving end.
The future is uncertain and not within our control, and while preparing for it, let us be supportive of one another - morally and otherwise. Our students need not make the endless number of compromises with themselves, their passion, their dreams, and aspirations and be turned into machines to produce high scores year after year. We should encourage creativity, original thinking, research, and innovation. In this way, our students will be convinced that there is also a bright future beyond marks.
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALSO READ: EDITORIAL | PGI report: It's time Meghalaya dissects the problem to find the root cause
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