It was a lovely morning. I started my car and was about to drive to work when the mobile phone rang. An office colleague was on the line. He started off by saying "Boss I have very bad news." I braced myself, my mind racing through a hundred things that could have gone wrong and responded "What is it?" He informed me that the son of an office colleague had just committed suicide.
"Not again" I moaned "These things have become almost a daily occurrence." I started discussing the details of the sad event. It seems it was a case of rejected love. Hold on, the boy was just a high school student. Why so early? What do kids want? Do they want to marry at this age? What about career? How can they carry the baggage of a love affair as they go out to make a career in today’s competitive world? How can children respond like this? Don’t they feel for their parents, who spent a life time bringing them up? How can a girl, who they have known briefly, become more important than parents or life itself? A hundred such questions flooded my mind. My heart went out to the parents.
The newspaper reports one such incident almost every second day. Something is seriously wrong with our society, it’s west photocopied value system, the west photocopied education system, which treats children like laboratory mice, and has created severe stress in young, immature minds.
Children today are under severe stress of studies. They rush to school early in the morning. After school they rush for tuitions. Then they rush to coaching institutes. Finally in the evening they return home like vanquished warriors they return home with sacks of assignments. As children try to relax, parents start their advice sessions, voicing their sky touching expectations and citing examples of so many who achieved success. After eating a few mouthfuls, kids sit down with their assignments. Gone are the days when children used to play in the evenings. Now children have the daunting task of balancing preparations for school exams (every Monday and now surprise tests anytime, as per prescription of CBSE), project works given by teachers (as per CBSE guidelines) the assignments from the tuitions and the coaching institutes, preparation for the various national exams etc, etc and etc. Yes, we are talking about young children who are loaded like donkeys in an illogical, almost idiotic system that does not care about the physical or mental health of the child. Poor parents are caught between pitying for their children and egging them on to compete (which they must to survive).
Schools have offloaded education to coaching institutes and tuitions. They are busy hosting cultural events, sports events and any such event which can put the school (and more importantly the principal) on the newspapers. Schools are after cheap publicity, whichever way it comes because it is good for business. Yes, schools have become business houses whose sole focus is to make profits.
Schools have become factories which concentrate more on quantity and less on quality. The more the students, the merrier the school. There are 70 to 80 students pushed into every nook and cranny of the class rooms. There is no place to walk properly. Teachers barely know ten percent of the students by name.
Schools hardly have time for academics. All the various events being hosted by the schools eat up the time for studies. The answer is simple- extra classes after school hours. The teaching and non-teaching staff of school is the most exploited humanity in our society today. They are paid paltry amounts and are expected to stay back after school for extra classes or as cheap labour for organizing the school’s numerous cultural events. But, hold on here, does anyone give a damn about the poor kids – the over worked, tired souls who sleep four hours a night in their growing up years, trying to manage the impossible?
The poor students are in a Catch-22 situation. The school expects regular attendance but education is hardly available there. The extra classes intrude into their already packed schedules of tuitions and coaching institutes.
To add to the complexity, are the hormonal changes happening in the high school students and the west-aped social values which make it compulsory for all smart students to have boy/girl friends. Yes, that is what we show them on TV and in films, don’t we? When attractions develop, who do these young, immature students turn to?
Parents? No chance. They know only one word "Study".
School? To be punished?
Friends? They are equally, if not more confused.
In the absence of any guidance, kids do what they reason is right. I need not elaborate here because I am sure my readers are perfectly in tune with my feelings. Ultimately, you find kids of Class 6 jumping off hand-in-hand from high rise buildings, dying on rail tracks, hanging from ceiling fans, consuming overdose of drugs.
Who is responsible? All I know is that in my growing up years I never heard of a young student ending his life. What kind of a system have we built for the most valuable things we have – our young, affectionate kids? Even if they are strong enough to weather the storm we have created in their lives, what kind of adults are we making? My appeal to all who read this article– please do whatever is in your capacity to correct this money munching education system and our completely misdirected value system. If we sit around like Ostriches, with our heads buried in sand, we are committing a heinous crime against our own children.
I will leave you with just another thought – Which school teaches moral science today? Is it not important that we build good human beings?
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