Veena Oberoi is a very worried educational and vocational guidance counsellor.
“I am shocked when I hear what their day is like. Most children leave home for school at 6 am and come back home around 8.30 pm after attending a series of tuitions. They get no time to grasp what they’ve been taught,” said Oberoi, who counsels teenagers at several public schools in Delhi.Expectations from children are high without any thought given to the child’s interests or capabilities, allege counsellors, but parents say the pressures come from educational infrastructure challenges, not families.
“College admissions cut-offs for certain courses hover over 99%. There are not enough good colleges around, where does it leave an average student? It’s natural for parents to worry about their child’s future and push him towards it,” said Mamta Bhardwaj, the mother of a Class 12 student at an international school in Noida.
Even teachers feel the pressure.“Schools want results and pile children with homework, with most children sitting for at least three exams in six months before sitting for the Boards,” said a senior doctor in the department of psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). “The focus on rote learning at the expense of physical and social activity stunts a child’s overall development turning them into adults with poor emotional and social skills,” he adds.
New Delhi’s Fortis Healthcare has created online groups where students are trained in life skills, with special focus on stress related to exams and bullying.
“Repercussions of stress in early life affects children emotionally, socially and academically and dog their lives for years to come. The two ways out are to remove the cause or, since all stressors cannot be wished away, support children to deal with it,” says Dr Samir Parikh, director, mental health and behavioral sciences, Fortis Healthcare.