Thursday, May 25, 2006

Where is our value system

There were 9 reported suicide cases, all students in the age group of 17 -18, with more than dozen students undergoing treatment in various hospitals, under critical care, in the last two days. The reason: results of 12th standard and PUC were announced, in all states of the country. These numbers reported, however, are solely for Bangalore, based on the reports of a couple of English newspapers. There could be similar cases in other towns and districts. There was a reported case of a brilliant girl from a reputed school committing suicide on the eve of the results, fearing failure. Sadly, when the results were announced, the girl had passed with distinction. The other cases reported were either students who could not pass the exam or who got a much lower percentage of marks than expected and so on. One case needs special mention - that of a child who reportedly committed suicide because there was no power supply in the area on the night prior to the examinations due to heavy rains and winds.

Most of these are children of educated parents, studying in reputed schools, though there are children from the lower rank of the society also, in this list. Surprisingly the cases in the lower strata of society are very few. Does it ring a bell? What have the children learnt all through their learning years in school as well as at home? Who has failed in teaching the children that passing the 12th standard exam with a good percentage is not the only sole purpose/achievement in life? There is much more to life than passing this, as one counsellor was mentioning in a TV program - a test lasting about three hours to test hard labour put in during the past twelve years. If they were so frustrated in not getting through the exam, why did they not prepare well for their exams well in advance? By their cowardly act, who has gained anything? If they thought that they were disappointing their parents by not securing good marks in their exams, how have they fulfilled their duty as a son/daughter by committing suicide, thus plunging them into irrecoverable sorrow and guilt? What would be the life of the parents hereafter?

Or are the parents to be blamed for not inculcating a sportsmanship in their children, in not nurturing a value system in them to face disappointments in life with equanimity, or as a necessary evil. Are they putting too much pressure on their children in achieving something they are not capable of? Are they trying to achieve through their children what they themselves could not achieve due to various reasons? Towards achieving these goals, what are their inputs? Do they sit with their children and find out about their day to day activities in school and outside? Do they advise them about how work towards their goal? Do they provide a congenial atmosphere at home for their kids to prepare for their exams?

What is the role of school in putting the children through so much stress to perform better and better? All schools want to advertise their centum pass percentage with equal percentage of distinctions. All schools want their students to be on the rank list. They compete with one another in putting the photograph of the children who secured distinction/above 90% etc in the newspapers. Do they provide any counselling to their wards how to approach the examinations and how to prepare for them systematically? Do they have close interactions with the parents of their students and are they able to discuss with them the position of their students in the class? Is their responsibility only to reprimand the student sternly if he/she does not perform well?

Generally speaking, the blame could rest on all. The children of present day have clear ideas about what they want to become when they grow up, from a very early age, or so they feel. It all comes from listening to their parent's views about what they (parents) want their children to become when they grow up. For example, a little girl I know was saying at the age of 6 that she wanted to become an IAS officer, when she grew up. At that age, she did not even know what the role of an IAS officer was nor did she know what educational qualifications were needed to become an IAS Officer. It was only because her father was a secretary to a lady IAS officer and when he came home from office, he used to tell his little daughter, "You should become an IAS officer when you grow up." Thankfully, she has outgrown her childish ambition and is now pursuing a totally different academic field.

It is good to instil aims and ambitions in young minds, at the same time, the parents should also be willing to spare time and energy in helping them to achieve their dreams, by giving them proper directions in systematic study plan and choice of subjects for study and providing them a proper atmosphere to prepare for the examinations and also nurturing their mental strength to work for their ambitions and take failures as stepping stones and not tomb stones.

What is generally found in today's urban India is a set of people all with high career aspirations to reach the topmost step in the ladder of success in society with no proper directions to reach there. They are a harried lot rushing from one thing to another from dawn to dusk with no time for the family. The only have enough time to tell their kids which moon to shoot for, not how to actually do it.

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