By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
The beginning of the year is always a matter of hope and anxiety for the young parents as well as for the students, since this phase of year brings the dreaded examitions. Only a few months back the students had a very enjoyable time as it was the festive season. They enjoyed the festive season and nearly forgot all about the examitions. Then by November they became aware that life is not all pleasure, there are lots of pain as well. As Yevgeny Yevushenko remarked, "Life is a rainbow which also includes black". For the young parent it is the time for nightmares, because they are terribly worried regarding the admission of their
three-year old toddler in some good and reputed school.
It is the same story every year. From the month of November parents start collecting forms for admission from various schools. They are not sure which school would favourably consider the admission of their three-plus kid. All the parents cherish dreams about the future of their little children. turally they want the best for their little child. But it is easier said than done. Though Guwahati can now boast of several elite and expensive schools, getting a seat in one of them is not easy. In the past, decades back, one could admit his child in any school he wished. It is true that there was hardly an English medium school in that era and there were no aristocratic or sophisticated schools. Private schools did not flourish in that age. There were only a limited number of schools and there were also less applicants. All the schools were supposed to be of the same standard and those ordiry schools, in today's estimate, produced several geniuses, whose mes are still known to the people all over the country. Actually people in that age were not glamour-conscious nor were they over-ambitions. And they were happy with whatever they got.
In this age there seems to be an undeclared competition among the elite schools. Only parents from the affluent and aristocratic section may aspire after such schools. But getting a seat in these reputed schools is not easy and it has become a Herculean task. In fact, it may be easier to scale Everest than getting a seat in the school of your choice. Hence parents with little children cannot remain sanguine at such times. But the little applicants in this strenuous exercise remain totally unconcerned. They are not the least concerned about admission. But for the parents these are difficult times.
I think that all the schools in the city except the CBSE-affiliated ones start their session in January. Many of the schools have already closed their admission process, but some have kept it open till now, since they do not fall into the sophisticated category and hence they are not in demand. Young mothers of those little children, who have not been fortute enough to get admission for their little children in the reputed and aristocratic schools of their choice, are turally tense and are possibly spending sleepless nights in agony.
The little kids are having their first taste of a test. The admission forms of some famed city schools are being sold like hot cakes and the parents are keeping their fingers crossed. turally the parents are in a crossroad of hope and despair. Who knows what is in store for them.
The parents want their little child to be admitted in the best English-medium school in the city, and hence parents have to wrestle with numbers and alphabets to train the child to make him eligible for admission. The whole household revolves round the little child. Every trick at their disposal, from bribery to cajolery to threat, is applied to keep a recalcitrant child glued to the study table. turally these little kids object to the unilateral direction of the parents, which they consider to be unfair. They have no ideas about admission test nor are they bothered by it. How can they possibly sit with books in the stuffy room, when ture beckons them outside to play? For them ture is an open book and they can learn everything from the book of ture. That sort of learning is very pleasant for them and there is only laughter and no tears. But parents have other ideas and their notion of learning is different from that of the children.
In this modern age the education of the child starts from the moment he can lisp a few words. In the past the education of a child started when he completed five years. I suppose that was the right age for the education to start. At present it can be seen that it is a matter of pride for the parents to send the child to the school even before he completes three years. They are rarely conscious of the undue pressure and nervousness they put on a toddler to booster their own egoism.
The elite schools of their choice do not have unlimited seats, since their rooms are not elastic. And in any case, possibly they earn a tidy amount just by selling admission forms. Out of hundreds of applicants only a small number get admission into these prestigious schools in the city. Noticing the lop-sided preference of the parents towards English-medium schools, some enterprising persons have started a flourishing business by opening English-medium schools at every nook and corner of Guwahati. A sizeable number of such schools have cropped up in the city like mushrooms. In fact, if you have a couple of rooms to spare, you can very well start an English-medium nursery school. Quality does not matter to the parents. The very me "English-medium school" acts like a talisman in the minds of the parents. They do not consider the fact that all that glitters is not gold.
When I open the newspaper in the morning I often see some coloured leaflets fluttering out from the folds of the newspaper. The pamphlets advertise lots of things from shops to sales to goods to schools. In some of these brochures we may find the mes of some newly opened nursery schools with colourful attractive pictures. The pictures are really alluring and there are numerous promises to provide a very comfortable, enjoyable and educative atmosphere in the school. Any parent may be easily lured by the charming pictures and the wonderful promises. But the proof of the pudding is in eating, as they say. I believe that the parents should verify the veracity of the real situation in the school. Mere promises and display in colourful leaflets is not enough. Parents have to be sure about the actual fact, because it is a matter of the child's welfare, which cannot be taken at face value.
We cannot help feeling sorry for the distracted parents. They turally want the best for their child, though their best may not be good enough for the rest of the country. Some of our reputed schools hold admission test for the toddlers perhaps to facilitate their process of selection and rejection. I wonder how they judge the merit of a three-year-old toddler. The reason may be that the school authority is aware that they cannot possibly admit all the applicants and so the admission test becomes necessary to select some and reject others. Then there may not be any scope for accusation and counter-accusation.
On the day of the test your heart will go out to the howling kids, dragged by the mothers to the examition hall, since the little children have not the least idea about the meaning of an admission test. Now if you ask me how on earth a three-year old infant's merit is tested through an examition, I must confess that I have not the foggiest idea.
For the young mothers these tests are a matter of life and death, as if the whole future of the child depends on these tests. Alphabets, numbers, and rhymes jostle one another in their tender heads and tears flow like a stream. Then the day of the test arrives too soon to the horror of the parents. But the children remain totally unconcerned. On the day when the results are announced and the list of the successful candidates eligible for admission is displayed, it is party time for some and depressing time for others. If the child fails the admission test, it is the end of the world for the hopeful mothers. If her neighbour's child mages to obtain the coveted seat, while her own son does not, jealousy gws her soul, then she spends her days in depression and utter humiliation. She feels that because of her child's failure, she has denigrated to a lower position and her neighbour has risen to a superior status. In this struggle for upmanship, the mothers rarely spare a thought for the innocent victims of grown-up rivalry — as the child could not care less as to whether he got the seat or not.
In fact, the mothers should realize that these tests do not really prove the child's intelligence or merit or anything like that. These little children have a streak of obsticy in them. It is a child's ture to do what he wishes to do. None can force him to do something against his will. Hence these examitions are no way to test the merit of a little child. A child's education really starts at home and it is the mother whose coaching counts in the long run. She is the one to help the child with loads of home work, given by the teacher in the class room. Actually it is the mother who does all the work and the school takes all the credit.