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Pariksha Pe Charcha: Breaking the Chains of Exam Anxiety

Pariksha Pe Charcha: Breaking the Chains of Exam Anxiety
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By: Zia Darakshan

Yet another game changing edition, 7th in series, of Pariksha Pe Charcha (PPC) is scheduled on January 29, 2024, from 11 AM onwards in a town hall format. Over a period of time, Pariksha Pe Charcha has emerged as a unique programme in which the Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly interacts with school students.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) invited participation from school students from Class 6 to 12 along with teachers and parents and recorded a massive 2.26 crore registration on the MyGov portal at mygov.in. The huge number itself speaks about the extraordinary enthusiasm among students, teachers and parents across the geographies of the country, to interact with the Prime Minister and seek his guidance on the matters concerning their education.

Remarkably, this time, the programme will also have parents and teachers. Thereby, it is a golden opportunity for them to ask the Prime Minister for tips and seek his advice on education matters concerning their wards.

It is worth mentioning that Pariksha Pe Charcha is part of the larger movement – ‘Exam Warriors’ – driven by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to bring together students, parents, teachers and the society to foster an environment where the unique individuality of each child is celebrated, encouraged and allowed to express itself fully.

‘Exam Warriors’ is a path-breaking, bestselling book of Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlining  a refreshing approach to education and urging everyone to put exams in the right perspective, rather than making it a life-and-death situation punctuated by undue stress and pressure. The book, in nutshell, carries the message – Learning should be an enjoyable, fulfilling and endless journey.

In the breakneck technologically advanced society of the present, the challenges faced by children and students are countless. The unabated flow of information and the rapid pace of life have created an environment that is not only complex but highly competitive, particularly affecting the holistic growth of the younger generation. At the nucleus of these challenges lies the permeating issue of exam-related fear and anxiety, acting as a significant hurdle to the well-being and confidence of students.

The deluge of information, coupled with the intensification of the competitive nature of education, has given rise to a race where students are compelled to outshine each other continually. While healthy competition has always been a part of academic life, the advent of information technology has elevated it to cutthroat levels. Peer pressure, parental expectations, and societal standards have created an atmosphere where success is not just a personal achievement but a benchmark set by others.

This competition, which was once confined to senior classes, has now permeated even junior levels. Parents take pride in comparing their children’s academic achievements with those of their peers, inadvertently fostering jealousy among the younger generation. Introducing a competitive mindset at such a young age predisposes children to anxiety, depression, frustration, and a desperate need to stand out from the crowd.

The relentless pursuit of excellence places an immense burden on children. Family, teachers, and society at large harbor high expectations, pushing them to be the best without fully understanding the pressure they endure. The fear and anxiety associated with exams do not vanish; they persist into adulthood, affecting individuals even after achieving success in their personal and professional lives. Success, measured solely by societal standards, becomes the sole determinant of a good life, overshadowing the importance of happiness.

Our education system, though modernized, seems to inadvertently foster stress and frustration rather than instilling physical, mental, and spiritual confidence in our young learners. Parents, in particular, contribute significantly to the mental strain on students with their relentless pursuit of academic excellence.

The pressure for children to excel academically and in extracurricular activities often leads to immense stress, with some as young as six years old thrust into competitions where failure is deemed unacceptable.

Delving into our examination system reveals a breeding ground for fear among students. The teaching community instills the fear of exams from the primary grades onward, perpetuating a culture of continuous testing that permeates the entire school curriculum. Private schools, in particular, resort to punitive measures to ensure teachers focus on pushing students to improve their scores, creating an environment that induces competitiveness but at the cost of extinguishing the natural joy of learning in children.

The prevailing attitude in our system is clear: “Focus on the examinations.” This mindset has led children to believe that marks, and marks alone, determine their worth. Even colleges and universities rely heavily on previous exam scores rather than evaluating a student’s potential. The relentless pursuit of high aggregate marks, driven by parental expectations, erodes the confidence of students and undermines their individual abilities and potential.

In the midst of these challenges, the National Education Policy (NEP), loaded with a host of reforms, was rolled out in2020, it came into effect during the 2023-2024 academic Year. Aiming to bring radical changes in the way Indian Educational System works, the NEP brings the whole system under one umbrella in line with one nation, one policy agenda. This comprehensive framework, encompassing elementary to higher education and vocational training, aims to revolutionize the education sector and pave the way for transformative changes by 2030.

The NEP 2020 encourages a shift from rote memorization to fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative skills. It promotes multidisciplinary learning to nurture well-rounded individuals capable of adapting to a rapidly changing world. The integration of skill development programs into mainstream education empowers students with practical expertise for the job market.

To conclude, the seventh edition of Pariksha Pe Charcha is happening at a time when the target segment of the students are gearing up to appear in their final examinations, mostly beginning in the first week of March. The Prime Minister talking about examination anxiety and tips to break the chains of this stress will go a long way to help the three main stakeholders – students, teachers and parents – to navigate the delicate path to a confident mindset.

(The author is a freelancer—PIB)

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