AS LIFE begins to get back to normal and students head back to schools with the full reinstatement of in-person classes, we might be tempted to forget, gradually, what we have gone through during this excruciating period of Covid-19.
However, some of our successes and sacrifices during this period will remain etched in our minds forever. Among the most remarkable of these, I would like to say, is the success of students in the board exams of 2020.
Although not feted by many, the results of the board exams 2020 must be written in golden letters in the history of education. We need to salute the valorous students of this batch who snatched success despite the serious mental and physical challenges they faced due to the pandemic.
The Board exams of both 10th and 12th grade are keenly awaited by all students every year. The resilient batch of 2019-2020 embarked on an arduous journey amidst this pandemic to successfully complete their academic year. The storms kept on blowing but these courageous seekers of knowledge kept their spirits high above all the deterrents and obstacles.
Nobody had expected this pandemic. In March 2019, the new academic year started with the usual buzz and enthusiasm, with new teachers and old friends. Ripples of excitement reverberated through the corridors of the school. For the first time, I heard my son confessing to his friend that he’s enjoying all the classes without feeling drowsy or distracted. I smiled, thinking that half the battle had been won already.
Battling the trepidations
But destiny had a different plan. Within two weeks of the reopening, the schools were shut due to Covid -19. Even the small ray of hope which was blinking was extinguished. Anxiety and stress among students kept escalating with the soaring positive cases. But education has a way of finding its way through all sorts of crises. Within no time, the super heroes rose to the occasion with online classes.
This new phase of digital education was very convenient for tech-savvy students but not reliable for assessment for teachers. Hence, offline and practical exams were made compulsory. Students battled the deadly virus with great patience and vigour. Many had to compromise with their health but they never gave up. By the end of the academic year, these Covid crusaders were all geared up to once again mock at the pandemic by appearing for the board exams.
Man plans and God laughs
For the first time in the history of CBSE, board exams were cancelled due to a devastating second wave of coronavirus. It was a wise and timely decision taken by the government to protect our young citizens. But uncertainty about the marks caused apprehensions among students. Within four months, the CBSE put an end to all speculations and declared the much anticipated results with transparency. The faith of all students and parents was restored, with the board drafting even better assessment criteria for the upcoming years.
Like many other parents, our happiness knew no bounds and my family celebrated our son’s achievement, along with our extended family in India. Although 78 per cent was not an outstanding score, it meant a lot to us as we have witnessed his long struggle with writing. His ideas were clear but he couldn’t pen them down properly. On the verge of giving up in Grade 5, his principal advised him not to panic and practice on a daily basis. That prep talk worked wonders for him and he improved slowly and steadily.
The shock of our life
Amidst our joyous celebrations, we witnessed the sad plight of a student of grade 10 undergoing dialysis in the same ward where my father was admitted. The cause of his ailment at such a tender age is heart-wrenching if you hear – his parents said he was over-obsessed with his marks and percentage. He secured 95% in the state board, yet he was extremely depressed as he lost the first rank due to Telugu paper. His discontent and stress were so deep that his blood pressure skyrocketed and eventually his kidneys were damaged permanently. The whole world paused before us and the gloomy eyes of the helpless child kept haunting me for days.
It is a lifetime lesson for many students and parents who have a fixed perspective that marks, percentage and positions are the only criteria of success in life. In such a rat race, students forget to embrace the most important values of life like good health, life skills, creativity and resilience.
Acceptance, gratification and celebration of even the simplest attainments can create a huge impact on student’s personality as well as career.
(The author is a member of the Faculty of English at DPS-MIS, Doha.)
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