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Exams aren't everything: how parental pressure is harming our children

For many young people, it's all work and no play

Exams aren't everything: how parental pressure is harming our children

For many young people, it's all work and no play

Exams aren't everything: how parental pressure is harming our children

For many young people, it's all work and no play

Exams aren't everything: how parental pressure is harming our children

For many young people, it's all work and no play

Many parents assume that “a good education” means getting good grades, and that the most important thing in life is a high-flying career. But India’s children are suffering from the pressure to succeed.

Getting into a respected university in India is harder than ever. The prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) receive around 450,000 applications for only 8000 places per year. The entrance exams are some of the toughest in the world: it’s a terrifying prospect for potential students.

And it’s becoming increasingly common for middle-class parents to send their children to special crammer colleges just to prepare them for the exams. The pressure is on for these 17 to 20-year-olds, who spend most of their waking life studying. “Sleep less. Five or six hours max,” was the advice of Surabhi, a hopeful engineering student at a college in Kota, Rajastan. In pursuit of her dream she spends six hours a day at college, followed by nine hours studying at home. She doesn’t have time for anything else.

Most students at these colleges - however intelligent, however talented, however industrious - will not get into an IIT. One college director admitted that this system is potentially harmful to young people: “Students who are not able to qualify start developing complexes and lose faith in their own capabilities.” They pin all their hopes on passing the exams; they aren’t prepared for failure.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big and aiming high, if that’s what you want. But how often are young people pursuing their parents’ dream rather than their own?

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