S.S.L.C Exams (Grade 10) are a big deal in India. The final year of school. Kids, teachers and parents (along with school management) go through a nerve-wrecking period once the portions are covered. Psychologists, psychiatrists and private tutors thrive during this tumultuous times. Parents run around for collecting study materials without even spending a minute to think if the poor child can swallow the information these products offer. Some say that a student’s entire life is depended upon how much marks s/he can score on these exams. In most cases, parents are the decision-makers. They decide what a student should do after the results are announced. Often s/he is send to some course that the parents are interested in. This humble writer belongs to a privileged group in which no such pressure was exerted.
I was an average student who had problems with learning. Letters often escaped me. Even though my parents are quite educated (a PhD, three MA’s and decades of teaching experience between the both of them!) they failed to figure out my issues on time. I had to get my head checked to find out that I was dyslexic and by that time I no longer had to go through any excruciating experience of schooling. As I have always maintained, the institution that I spend the last years of my schooling was a madhouse run by moralistic nincompoops who believed in ridiculing and bullying students. None of them helped students but on the other hand, rather enjoyed making stories about them. Very few amongst them knew the art of teaching and even amongst that few this art died when they entered menopause. There were a couple of hags who came just to gossip. After this stretch in this madhouse of a school, when I was sent to another school for attending Higher Secondary, I was relieved beyond limits. I felt wanted, there. My History teacher loved me for my accuracy and ability to remember dates in a chronological order. My Political Science teacher valued my opinions and my Sociology teacher often cracked jokes on the strange values and ideas I possessed. Economics was the only tough nut in the whole course but I came out of it unscathed by the help of a friend of my Uncle’s, towards the exam period.
Whatever I have said above is to make the point that the Indian educational system is not at all good for the students. Competition is not the solution. To those who argue that there is a world out there in which you need to fight to survive, let me ask you one single question…
‘What will the world do with so many doctors, engineers and scientists?’
My own cousin is writing the SSLC exams that are starting today. He is a bright boy of 14, who writes poems and screenplays. I was 14 when he was born and I have seen him grow up right under my eyes. Just like me, he also had his own problems which hampered his studies a bit but my parents started coaching him recently, even though it was a bit late. He called me yesterday night to seek my blessings (not that I am a warlock or something!) and I gave him my best wishes. I also told him to be cool and that the world does not end with an exam result. I just wanted to give the boy some courage and I hope he got it. I do not want a sweet boy like him to fizzle out because of an imperfect academic system.
I was a bit upset with this in the morning and it resulted in an argument with my Mom (who is a school teacher). I told her that schools are the most depressing institutions in the state and teachers should be renamed as ‘torturers.’ I did not wait for her reply.