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India

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est. 11/10/19

Message from Writer

Just because you are soft doesn't mean you are not a force. Honey and wildfire are both the color gold. -Victoria Erickson

The Issue With Education Today

March 10, 2021

For every board exam a student takes, they take about three pre-boards and 3 model test papers to prepare. And attempting these practice exams is not an option.

Every March, thousands of students around India sit to write their Board Exams. For each subject we take in school, there is one exam to be written, so on an average, each student writes five test papers. These exams, the question papers made directly by the education boards, are written in the tenth and twelfth grade and are said to be the most important exams in a students life. We're taught to be afraid of the exam from the moment we enter grade eight. The one threat at the tip of every teacher's tongue is that if we don't learn properly now, we won't be able to write our boards properly. Students study unimaginable hours a day to achieve a decent score on one set of 80 mark papers.

As one of the youngest in my circle of friends at home, I've seen how teenagers hole up in their rooms to study instead of spending time with their family or friends. I've seen dark circles on their faces, results of their sleepless nights and the stress of the upcoming exams. I've seen the disappointment on their faces, not because they've failed the exam, but because they didn't top. Why is it all so important?

In 2013, one of the leading causes of suicide in India was failure in examination, with 2,471 deaths to its name. In 2019, one student committed suicide every hour, with over 10,000 deaths in the year around the country, the highest rate in the past 25 years for which data is available. 

This year, I begin grade ten. I write my Board Exams in twelve months. I have one year left to prepare for one of the most important exams in my life, and though I feel like a year is more than enough time, society begs to differ. It's been a thought swimming in my mind for some time now, the education system needs to change.

But the board exams aren't the only cause for the huge amount of stress put on students. There are dozens of other competitive exams a student can take, such as the NTSE (National Talent Search Examination), SOF (Science Olympiad Foundation), etc. In fact, if I were to list them all out, students would probably have an exam to write every weekend. Writing so many competitive exams feels kind of pointless, doesn't it?

And it's not just the board exams that puts so much pressure on students. Stream selection after grade ten is another huge contributing factor. The three main streams, Science, Commerce, and Humanities, have become less of streams and more of knowledge markers. Although, it's the student's choice in the end, scoring an 85+ on your boards means people expect you to take science. For the 'average' students, who get a 60-85 on their boards, commerce is society's choice. Meanwhile, if you have 'no talent', which is also defined as <60, you're automatically categorised into humanities. 

The truth, although it might hurt, is that every single stream is as important as the next. The world is built on money, and would probably collapse if not for those who manage this money, for which, you'd need to study Commerce. The movies we watch, the songs we listen to, some of the most important jobs in today's society require a degree in something related to humanities. So, why then, do we segregate streams in some sort of tier list?

The academic pressure on a student is a huge contributing factor to why India has seen a huge rise in the brain-drain (where one obtains education from one place and chooses to work somewhere else) amongst college graduates. Students acquire their education in India, then opt to go and make a living somewhere else, possible for better pay, or simply because of the strain of academics.

Does the education system need to change? The short answer, yes. There is too much of focus put on academics and exams, and not enough on both co-curricular activities and simply learning how to do the most simple things, such as the yearly taxes we need to pay after we start earning a living. Exams have gone from a paper testing our understanding to a paper testing our ability to memorise, cheat without being caught, and send our body into overdrive.

At the end of the day, there's always a good side to everything. With various textbooks, multiple boards and curriculums, the Indian education system can be considered one of the best in the world. But, ask yourself this question, when does the pressure become too much?
Works Cited:

Mukunth, V. (2014, December 11). Four charts show why India's youth suicide rate is among the world's highest. Retrieved March 07, 2021, from https://scroll.in/article/694364/four-charts-show-why-indias-youth-suicide-rate-is-among-the-worlds-highest

Kumar, C. (2020, September 07). One every hour: AT 10,335, last year saw most student suicides in 25 years - times of India. Retrieved March 07, 2021, from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/one-every-hour-at-10335-last-year-saw-most-student-suicides-in-25-years/articleshow/77969096.cms

The great INDIAN brain DRAIN: Impact of brain drain in India. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2021, from https://www.indiatimes.com/thought-starter/great-indian-brain-drain

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7 Comments
  • maria.

    Oh my, this was such an amazingly written piece. How are you coping with the stress? I'm not sure I could cope with that much stress. I live in England and am currently in year 11 which is when we take our exams and I can completely relate and understand how the system needs to change. I completely agree with you and I hope we see changes to the education system soon :)


    7 months ago
  • Nyla

    Wow! You wrote that so well, it flowed very nicely and you used both emotion and facts to convince the reader. Also, I'm so sorry you have to go through all that! It's crazy! I'm lucky to live in Canada where we don't have standardized tests in the older grades. Our exams are moldable from teacher to teacher and we don't have a hierarchy of streams either. Although I am south Asian, so I still have that culture that believes the hierarchy, I do agree with you that all of them are so important. In fact, I once read an article from a professor who wrote that he believes doctors should have to major in the humanities and only take a minor in science because to be a doctor you need to first build up compassion, and the science knowledge comes after. (I don't know the system there but here you can gain an undergrad in anything before medicine) That's so crazy that the people who get the worst grades are pushed towards the humanities because, I may be mistaken, but doesn't that include government- which is super important? RE: Awwww, I'm really glad you liked my poem! Also aww yeah, no worries, have a great sleep! Also omg, thank you so much!! That explained it so well cause I was soo confused lol, thank you! You're literally sooooo sweet, I hope you have a great day too :)


    7 months ago
  • pluto-

    Thank you so much for writing this, and i completely agree, the education system has to change.


    7 months ago
  • _Delphiruns2theocean_

    Oh wow! I live in Manhattan, you live in India though so you may not know where that is, but it's an hour from Los Angeles, in California US, and I go to a huge public school. This seems very stressful and definitely not good for your health overall, in America we have SATs and ACTs for college, and for California schools we have SBAC which is a week of all morning testing in May. I'll shut up about complaining about SBAC now that I see you go through all this, and I hope the education system there changes! Good luck in the competition btw! <3


    7 months ago
  • Minvra

    I would follow you if I didn’t already though.


    7 months ago
  • Minvra

    Thank you for writing this piece. I think it’s something we need as the next generation to hold the torch. Seems pointless to force people to work so hard to the point that they withdraw from their social life, or don’t have a lot of sleep. Can’t remember much when you’re tired. Something about how it’s like a save button. I never heard of this type of testing, but I heard of Science Olympiad. Yikes I didn’t do well. We still have a standardized test to do since 3rd grade though. Well then there’s SATS and ACTs too


    7 months ago
  • alwayswriting

    This is an amazing piece! I am from Germany and I too believe that the education system has to change, and this has just proven that. I wish you all the best in the competition <3


    7 months ago