For India’s 200 million-plus households with school-going children, the onset of spring is usually a season of discontent. In February-March, 30 million students will write the do-or-die class X and XII board exams of 31 examination boards including the national CBSE and CISCE boards. This is followed by agonising four-six weeks’ waiting period until results of the important school-leaving exams, upon which admission into the country’s best colleges and universities is dependent, are declared.
Unsurprisingly, the great majority of students (and parents) experience great anxiety and stress in the run-up to and during exams. Stressful peer pressure, high parental expectations and exam boards refusing to reform rote-learning oriented examinations, have resulted in a ballooning number of children and adolescents finding it difficult to cope, and are buckling under the pressure of irrational fears and loss of confidence. According to a study published in the US-based International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, 81.6 percent of secondary school students in India suffer moderate to severe examination-related anxiety. More damningly, a student commits suicide per hour in India, according to 2015 data of the National Crime Records Bureau.
In our spring issue, we examine the root causes of examination phobia and feature the views of professional child counselors, educators and psychologists on how to confront examination phobia, manage stress and anxiety during the exams season. The consensus of opinion is that parents should remain calm and desist from transferring their anxiety to children by providing supportive home environments to enable children to give their best.
The timely cover story apart, this issue includes several other informative features. Among them: Eastern vs. Western parenting styles, valuable advice by Vellore-based pediatrician Dr. Gita Mathai on assessing and addressing pain in infants and an interview with celebrated children’s author Roopa Pai on ways and means to respect the space and privacy of adolescent children.