Our children

The Indian education system is getting extremely perverted. Sadly, there is no social concern on how we are, as a nation, rearing our future generations. Education has become a race to the top. In the process, it is fine if questionable methods are used to attain top marks. The story of Ruby Rai of Patna topping the Bihar State Examination Board’s Class XII exams might still be in people’s memory. When TV channels interviewed the top three students of 2016, all three were unable to respond to simple basic questions. Ruby, who attained the first position pronounced Political Science as ‘Prodigal Science’ and described it as a subject related to cooking. Hold on! Do not think that this is some event in far off Bihar. All across Orissa, in every single district, the exam time attracts guardians to assist in passing copies of answers to the students sitting in the examination halls. This onerous responsibility is usually taken up by mother, father, brothers or even uncles and cousins. The desire to somehow perform extremely well has resulted in complete negation of the desire to gain knowledge. In this process, the system has successfully stifled the creative aspect of the students’ character. The child’s interest is not being taken into account. Millions of kids are being steamrollered with the sole aim of producing a class of similar robots that will be good only to serve someone superior. It is pointless to blame the commercialisation of education as that is a byproduct of the desires that we parents have created or are imposing.

A few instances go a long way in proving the deep-seated perversion and cruelty to which we fearlessly subject our children to. Recently, a video doing the rounds on WhatsApp shows the meticulous care taken by a school student to copy in exams. He had painstakingly painted the hard board on which his answer sheets were clipped. The board was carefully cut in the middle to the exact size of the screen of a mobile phone. This phone had a screen saver which was camouflaged in the same pattern and colour combination as the board and was taped on to the board from below. It would be near impossible for an invigilator to spot the phone screen. One swipe of the screensaver and notes could be read from the phone. This ingenuity of the student was obviously used for a negative purpose. A similar situation in another country involving a student having equal intelligence may have resulted in an invention of positive value. We do not see Indian children coming up with new ideas or inventions. Funnily, kids of Indian origin studying in other countries constantly get accolades for very many simple to use inventions.

Another instance of this kind of negativity turning acute demonstrates the horrific side of pushing schoolchildren to perform well in exams. When on 8 September 2017, the media splashed the story of the murder of Pradyumn Thakur, a seven year old class II student of Ryan International School in Gurgaon, the local police showed extreme alacrity and arrested Ashok Kumar, conductor of the school bus. Across the country, those Indians who watch national TV, swallowed the yarn spun by the Gurgaon police because Ashok seemed to be semi literate and economically backward and therefore a fit candidate for this kind of a heinous crime. Spice was added to the false allegation by hinting that, maybe, Ashok had tried to molest the child before killing him. The parents of Pradyumn were not satisfied with the ‘efficiency’ of the Gurgaon police. On their insistence, fresh investigation was conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI). This brought to light a completely new macabre angle to the child’s murder. According to CBI, which supposedly scrutinised CCTV footage, the murder was committed by a Class XI student of the same school. This kid also must be from a rich family because Ryan International is a highly expensive school. Interestingly, the new discovery of one rich kid killing another rich child did not seem to be saucy enough for the national media. Therefore, this news which was revealed by the CBI on 8 November 2017 was underplayed and sidelined. The motive of the Class XI student to commit this crime was simply to get a parents’-teacher meeting and an exam slated for that day, postponed. It is easy to blame the Class XI student and suggest that this particular student probably had criminal leanings. In reality, however, if we look into ourselves, most parents may not admit openly but will certainly accept that they all put tremendous pressure on their wards to perform exceedingly well. Not just once, keep on performing till eternity. This kind of pressure creates a solidified notion that everything is fair and acceptable as far as exams are concerned. Indian parents psychologically accept the adage ‘Ends justify the Means’. This conscious effort to constantly push our children has started resulting in desperation. While this desperation on one hand is leading to commit random deadly crimes, on the other hand, it has been pushing students who fail to commit suicide. When children like Ruby Rai or this Ryan International Class XI student grow up and have to bear mature social responsibilities, one can only visualise the grotesque kind of society and nation that they will help create. When the world is trying to make children cultivate their creativity and learn to live in peace with nature, we Indians are hell bent on creating future generations who are being imbibed with the spirit of hatred, callousness and unconcern for fellow beings. It is time we as a society start revisiting all that we are doing to our children.

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