Bridging Gaps

Come February, we eagerly welcome the spring. The weather gets warmer, and the light breezy mornings and evenings bring a spring to our steps. With all this begins the festive fervor to welcome the vivacious festival of Holi. Alongside the zing and zeal, we welcome the season of board exams. The class X and XII graders are on tenterhooks as they prepare to sit for the crucial examinations. I describe from personal experience how the environment at home transforms. The children declare banishment to the study room, appearing only at meal times, disheveled and anxious. All socialization is banned for the entire period. Along with the immediate family, the extended circle of family and friends are also informed of the updated rules with special emphasis on how they will not be welcomed. Gadgets and technical support find better use than sharing reels and chatting.

As one kid is almost on the brink of college studies and the other is ready to foray into the working arena, my experience of the academic system has had its highs and lows. From learning to navigate through disruptive feedback in parent-teacher meets to developing acceptance as a tool to cope with the pressure of higher scores. Along with this one question has always nagged me, “If everyone has to be a topper then what about the others?” The looming gaps stare us in the face, those which the new education policy is perhaps trying to bridge. But the bridges are being built only at the school level. What about the bridges from school to college.

As a parent who has witnessed disappointment and confusion when my child moved from school to college, it has been a roller coaster. Every time the child’s enthusiasm dips, I would only wish for a way out. Nothing much happens that prepares a child for what college education is about. Hearsay and feedback from seniors aren’t of much value. Especially when we transcended into the new world during the COVID time.

What are these gaps –

Feedback Mechanism – platforms for feedback regarding the child’s progress are mostly limited to the parent-teacher meetings. When the educator has a queue of children and parents waiting at her desk, communication tends to happen under time constraints. I ended up shifting all onus and blame on myself and my child for not meeting expectations

The measure of Brilliance – despite all modifications and visionary policy changes, the measure of brilliance remains through numbers and marks. What about skill-based brilliance? What about sports brilliance? There are no strong foundations for children to move towards these avenues. Against this background, I as a parent was never confident of encouraging my child to experiment with alternate paths to grow and succeed.

Counseling – different education boards mandate the presence of counselors in the schools. The initiative is very good as it promotes inclusivity by bringing in children from diverse backgrounds, culturally as well as academically. However, the counseling carries the perception of only problematic children. No wonder, it becomes a taboo! What can the institution and society do to break this? Counseling is equally the need for a topper as it is for someone with special needs.

Aptitude Tests and Career Counselling – the children wait to reach grade 9 or 10 before they get exposure to career opportunities and related academic paths. As a parent, I feel the need for this exposure at least two years early. With the increased awareness children have, they are aptly placed to comprehend the information. It could be age-appropriate exposure that gradually becomes intensive. The same applies to aptitude testing. The aptitude tests my children went through were quite elaborate and delved into the strengths of the child too. however, if introduced a couple of years early, the awareness helps make several course corrections and enhances readiness.

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Foundation Courses – lack of foundation courses at the school level that help a child decide on taking up the subject for college education. For example, my child wants to study Psychology in higher secondary. Her preparedness for the subject is based on the internet research she and I can effectively do. So practically we are decided to take up a study course about which she has no clue so far. I go crazy searching for foundation courses or study material that will give insight into the subject and what to expect. What is the possibility that the universities offer these as supplementary courses to be taken up during summer vacations or the schooling year if the child desires?

 

If the education system can create processes, even if optional to overcome the gaps, it will lessen the lack of direction a child may feel at a higher secondary or post-school level. There will always be a percentage of more aware, meticulously structured children. What about those who either do not have access to resources or lack the understanding and awareness to make decisions while in school? Being a mother to two children one from each of the aforementioned sides, I know what it feels like and what effort it takes to keep a balance. I’m quite hopeful of the change the New Education Policy promises, especially in creating flexibility in the choice of subjects and duration of acquiring a degree/diploma. More focus is needed on equipping children with skills that promise employability and productivity early in life.

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About the Author

Saravjot Hansrao

life has always been about waking up with a renewed passion each day. I owe my inner strength to blessings of the eternal truth God, my bringing up amidst real heroes of the Indian Army read more...

10 Posts | 1,602 Views

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