Not so golden

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There is a saying that student life is a golden life and many of us readily concur without reservation. However, having been in the teaching profession for over a decade and a half, I hardly see anything golden in the life of students these days apart from the bliss of innocence they are blessed with at their age.  We cannot overlook the numerous problems and challenges students face during their so called golden life. Indifference and ignorance on the part of parents, teachers and the society as a whole to the problems students face will eventually prove detrimental to the society, for the future belongs to the budding talents of today. 

Many of the problems students face at school is created by the system. There is this decadent and outdated mentality among educationists, policy makers, teachers, parents and the society as a whole which treats every student like a finished factory product with a definite size, shape and color, whereas the fact is that every human being is different with a distinct personality, strength and weaknesses. It is this failure to accept this human reality that is at the root of many problems students face at school. 

Whereas the fact is that not everyone is blessed with the same level of intelligence and not everybody who excels academically becomes successful in life, most parents and teachers expect everyone to be an academic highflyer. There are many parents who want their children to be doctors and engineers, their children's interest and aptitude notwithstanding—a highly callous, unrealistic and absurd expectation. The intelligent in the class may not be under much pressure, but most students who struggle particularly with subjects like science and mathematics are under immense strain. Added to this, there is this inhuman tendency among parents, teachers and the society to humiliate students who do badly in studies without a second thought about how such an attitude might affect them psychologically and the lasting effect it might have for his future health and wellbeing. I wonder why teachers can't respect and love their students for who they are, their academic performance notwithstanding. Teachers must first learn love, compassion and humanity before they make students learn. 

All work, no play

Needless to say, children love nothing like fun and play. Nothing is refreshing to behold than children at play. To miss fun and play at school is to miss something very important in life. To deprive students the same is no less than a crime, but it is very saddening that schools, particularly the private schools in a country like ours with very unprofessional attitude toward education, where every Tom, Dick and Harry passes for a teacher and educationist, where many of those who do not even qualify to run a grocery shop own and run schools, hardly let any games, sports and extra-curricular activities at schools.  Students are confined to their drab classrooms the whole working hours endlessly mugging their lessons. The sight of private school SLC students cramming answers for the examination from the dawn until midnight hours is more than one can bear. Robbing them of not only their health and welling but also their creativity, the pressure this puts on most students is hard to imagine. The grading system where there is no pass or fail is not perfect and has its own fair share of woes but it will surely alleviate some of the pressure the not-so-intelligent students harrowingly face to perform academically by hook or crook. 

Growing amidst degradation

Apart from fun and frolic, student life is about character-building and discipline. It is about inculcating moral and spiritual values, about preparing students to be responsible citizens of the future. It is no less about academic excellence. Having said so, it feels frustrating, very agonizing indeed, that student life in this country is about almost nothing. It is mostly a preparation for working in the dirtiest, most difficult, dangerous and degrading conditions in the scorching sun of the Middle East. 

It is said that teachers  are guides, friends and philosophers to civilization , those selected few members of the society who stand above the common herd of men by virtue of their moral, spiritual and academic excellence. Having said so, it is utterly distressing that most teachers do not possess even a semblance of these virtues. The teaching profession is not a choice but compulsion for the vast majority of those in this profession. If there is one thing all those in the teaching profession, especially those employed in public schools have excelled at, it is a gross dereliction of duty, irresponsibility and mismanagement. The state of despair our public schools are in, the all-pervasive exploitation in private schools and the callous indifference of the society and the government to take corrective measures to improve school education speak volumes about the school environment our students are being brought up in. 

Whereas schools, colleges and universities must be centers of excellence—a guide, friend and philosopher to civilization—nowhere is mismanagement, corruption, irresponsibility and mediocrity more pervasive than in our educational centers.

Looking at the ground reality, the stifling environment, the degraded and depraved culture our students are bought up in does not bode well for their future and the future of humanity. Not half-hearted and simply cosmetic but fundamental changes are essential to improve school education so that we can give back again to the students their golden life which is their birthright. 

(The author teaches English at the higher secondary level in Damak)