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17 Feb

I was restless, my heart was palpitating fast. I was sweating under the air conditioner. I could feel butterflies in my stomach. Today ISC results were going to be announced. My niece Nisha had appeared for her 12th board’s examination. Nisha and I had always shared a special bond, maybe because we were of the same temperament. Nisha was stressed and so was I. I had closely seen her working hard and putting in extra effort for the examination.

Yesterday evening, I came to Nisha’s home to sleep over as I knew she was worried about her results. To make Nisha relaxed, we went to dine at her favorite restaurant. It was a lively atmosphere; we were cracking jokes and gossiping. At the dinner table, Nisha’s mom declared that whatever be the results, they would be very satisfied and happy as she does not believe in judging Nisha just based on an exam result. They were proud to have a daughter like her. I could see the soothing effect of her mom’s speech on her. After dinner we went for a long drive, indulged in ice cream and reached home late. Everyone was tired so as soon as we hit the bed, we slept off.

Next morning we were all restless. I could see stress on everyone’s face. While Nisha was sitting quietly and thinking something, her mom was doing puja and her father was anxiously fidgeting his finger and roaming around the house.

Finally, the result was out, and to our expectations like always, Nisha topped in her school. She had scored 92.8% in aggregate.

That called for a celebration. I declared a grand dinner party at my home. Soon Nisha and her parents went busy in receiving congratulatory messages and calling others. I took their leave, and rushed home to organize the party.

To my surprise when Nisha and her family came home for dinner, they were looking disappointed. When I asked them they casually replied that they are a bit tried.

I could sense something unusual. I took Nisha to a corner and asked her the reason. She said that her mom had posted about her achievement on some Facebook and WhatsApp groups, and found people talking about the high cut-off marks for getting into top ranked colleges and many students scoring 95%, 98% etc.. They were disappointed because their dream of Nisha studying in one of the top three institutions was shattered. While telling this she broke into tears. Before this, she had never seen them being upset by her academic result. Her first rank in her class had always made them proud and happy. That motivated her.

She cried, “Why are they so upset? They have always seen my efforts and have appreciated it then why is it so different this time?”

I consoled her that everything will be fine soon. I knew that this was happening because of the information overload & social media show off trends. Parents tend to unconsciously judge their children even when there are systemic problems in our education system.

With her tears, I could see her self-esteem and self-worth shattering. I spoke to Nisha’s parents. I told them that their discontent and behavior is going to have a negative impact on her. It was just a stepping stone in the long journey of her career. She would do wonders if they supported her. They realized the unintentional negative influence of their mindset and helped Nisha in calming down.

As adults, we need to continuously reflect on our thoughts and educate youngsters about the system level challenges such as lack of capacity in premier colleges. Pressurizing teenagers to compete for those limited seats will have an adverse impact on their preparation for life. Instead, we can help them cope up with this system by adopting Saral Education concept of “self-driven learning & growth”. Once they are aware of this special capability in themselves, they will start thinking in more creative ways.

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