This is not the age or time to allow our children to go to school on their own as we used to do during our childhood. We, the parents of today, are mired by too many thoughts of insecurity of our children, and that’s why in the urban areas, a huge number of parents accompany their children to school. If anything happens, or if there isn’t any news of the child after school, the minds of the parents go berserk.
That’s exactly what happened when three school-children went missing on a single day in Netrakona. Everyone panicked; everyone thought they had been abducted. However, to everyone’s relief, they were found by the police. All three of them said they ran away because of excessive pressure of studies from school, and parents berating them. They said they didn’t want this educational pressure.
If their claim is true, we certainly have something to worry about. These days, every parent wants their children to get outstanding results in their exams. One doesn’t expect any less than that. When we were school-going children, not many parents would tell us to be the first boy or the first girl of the class.
They wanted us to play games; they wanted us to read story books, and they also encouraged us to spend some time with our friends.
Times, however, have changed, and the sports grounds have disappeared, everybody seems to have become glued to their mobile phones, and spending time with friends means spending money at fast food joints. And in the meantime, we want our children to be outstanding in their exams.
The teachers these days want that too; they don’t want to help a weaker student. The schools want to expel their weaker students, as the weaker ones, they think, would give the schools a bad name in the board exams. The teachers are busy in private tuition, and if any student doesn’t seek coaching classes from that teacher, the student isn’t getting qualifying marks. The teachers are marking those children so poorly that they are failing to sit for the final exam.
That’s how lives are being destroyed by the children’s own teachers. I know of many children who couldn’t sit for the board exam just because they didn’t take private tuition from their own school-teachers.
I’m not saying that the teachers during our time were far better than what they are today, but they were more human than the teachers of today. I was a student of a cadet college, where, during my six years, I never secured pass marks in Bangla or English. I not only passed, but did very well in the two board exams in these two subjects. The management of my school allowed me to sit for the board exam. My school made it a task to make me pass in the board exam.
This is not happening nowadays. Any student who cannot qualify for the school test exams are not being allowed to sit for the board exam, just because if any student fails in the board exam, he or she will give a bad name to the school.
Now, does that seem like a responsible thing to do on the part of the school? This behaviour of schools is absolutely a sin. 40 students cannot be equally good in math. That doesn’t mean someone is less intelligent than others. There may be plenty of reasons for someone being weak in a specific subject.
He or she may not be interested, or the student may have a lack of confidence. It is the responsibility of the school and its teachers to help the weaker students.
However, our teachers are more interested to help the good students. This cannot be the essence of any form of education.
If anyone is weak in math, he or she must be good in some other subject. The student needs extra care in the subject that he or she is weak in. We as a nation have not matured in this direction.
We only enforce that every student has to be the first boy or the first girl of the class. Do all the weaker students turn out to be less creative than the good students when they enter real life? I don’t think so.
Do all the students have to become the first boy or the first girl for becoming creative? I doubt that.
Creativity is something that cannot be enforced through grades; rather, it is like a tree requiring nurturing after finding out the student’s creative aspect.
It is like a river that can take its own course. Creativity requires motivation and inspiration from the elders.
If we burden students with heavy studies and force them only to memorize things, it will really be difficult for children to flourish.
These three Netrakona children should serve as an eye-opener to us all.
First published in Dhaka Tribune of Bangladesh.

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