Student psychology is fast changing. About 16 students have committed suicide subsequent to the declaration of Intermediate results in Telangana. They took the extreme step as they ‘failed’ in the examination. Their decision is being viewed as a psychological disorder. This number is unfortunately growing.
The Board of Intermediate Education in Telangana recently announced the results of the most important step of a student career, the Intermediate course. The results graph reflects a drop in the pass percentage and about 64.8% per cent students completed the course with girls outnumbering boys in the success ratio. It mirrors the success of a student at the beginning of his specialised educational career.
Usually private academic institutions take remedial classes for the academically weaker students. But their emphasis is mainly on improving the grades. They do not tell the students that it is alright to go at their own pace and not worry about achieving high grades. They do not address the subject students study in detail and make them understand it properly. In government institutions too the thrust is not on this aspect. Since there is no thrust, a student takes a non-strict approach and ultimately fails in examinations.
Family and the peer pressure are pushing many a student, who otherwise could have made a successful career in other fields, into courses for which they have neither inclination nor natural aptitude. They follow a familiar pattern in choosing the courses and institutes, guided by the herd mentality. They are forced to choose under pressure from parents and peer groups because of a false sense of prestige attached to certain professional courses. Most students opt for professional courses after intermediate and for that they opt for science and mathematics courses though they are not comfortable with them. They are ignorant of good career options that come from pursuing other options.
The irony is that, in this rat race, the socially, educationally and economically backward students are failing to cross the goal of Intermediate exams. They compete with high-profile neo-rich students. But what they do not realise is that the competition is between unequals and it is not a level playing field. For instance, students from vernacular medium find it extremely difficult to communicate effectively in English because of their schools’ failure to promote proficiency in English.
There are umpteen challenging and promising careers in teaching, civil services, journalism, legal and in a plethora of other fields. But the emphasis is only on the professional courses of Engineering, IT and Management. The Liberal Arts –-humanities and social sciences — which actually deal with the issues affecting society and the state, are totally neglected.
We are paying a heavy price for this academic imbalance and shortsighted approach. In the southern States, every student wants to do only BTech and MBA. This is ultimately making certain places the suicide cities of India with maximum suicides being committed at the Intermediate levels.
We have a very faulty education system. It gives undue importance to marks and grades. It encourages rote learning and unhealthy competition. It is totally commercialised. It promotes the coaching class culture on a mass-scale. The socially and economically weaker students spend a fortune of their poor parents’ savings on parallel coaching classes.
The education system does not emphasise on developing a holistic personality. It does not make them sensitive and good human beings. Our educational institutions are producing more robots that are inhuman and insensitive to human suffering. All that matters to the present generation of students and their guardians is jobs that fetch them good money.
Reality and Expectations
It is important to de-emphasise the stress on examinations. Our education system should emphasise on developing skills to meet challenges in life. It should encourage independent and critical thinking. We are blindly aping the Western pattern of education that promotes indiscipline among the youth. Students are depressed because of family pressure and uninformed choices of professional courses. There is a lot of pressure on them to get good marks and secure high-paying jobs.
Apart from intense competitions, bias on the basis of language, caste and religion is common in elite institutions, leading to complex emotional problems among students. There is a mismatch between reality and expectations, resulting in frustration, stress and strain. The intense competition and high levels of expectations, coupled with an inferiority complex due to a variety of factors, are making things difficult for students.
Our institutions of higher learning are gearing up to provide job-oriented courses that meet the requirements of multinationals and big business. Socio-economic issues and problems plaguing society and the state do not form part of their course contents. The whole emphasis is misconceived and misplaced. In the present case, the Intermediate being the crucial course of learning made about 16 students scapegoats. They became victims of pressure and stress. Student psychology is slowly but steadily drifting towards a pattern that is not right.
Parents should guide their wards to inculcate a culture that strengthens them in taking the examination with a positive motto and that positive motto is possible only when they are guided with systematic learning.
(The author is a social activist, philanthropist and a doctor based at Warangal)