Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Nurture and protect

It is an annual ritual that has now come to assume more than what it actually is: a mere academic routine. Like the years before, the Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE) has announced the date for declaring HSLC, HSSLC results ~ on May 24. According to the NBSE, a total of 24,361 candidates ~ 11,197 boys and 13,164 girls ~ had appeared for this year’s HSLC examinations in the State. The figures for HSSLC examination read like this: a total of 16,085 candidates were enrolled, out of which 12,431 were in Arts stream, another 1,214 in Commerce and 2,439 in Science. Out of the 16,085 candidates, 7,612 were boys and 8,473 girls. Somehow here in Nagaland, these two examinations seem to attract an unhealthy dose of attention and scrutiny every year. As though other exams are of lesser import. This, in turn, has led to a toxic obsession with the performance produced in these two exams, especially HSLC. We have had cases of students committing suicide after being unable to reach the parents’, schools’ expectations. Being a student can be tough, especially when made to study in that particular environment. Aside from facing challenges with academic performance, including low grades and lack of motivation, the students have also to navigate social and emotional obstacles such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and conflicts with parents, peers or teachers. It is therefore crucial for students to receive encouragement to help them overcome these challenges. Any effect to the contrary can have a significant and long-lasting impact on children. While the primary focus of schools and teachers is to impart education, their role in shaping the overall development of students can neither be overlooked nor understated. The most important aspect of this role is to instil a sense of self-awareness and self-esteem among students. Schools and teachers should help students develop a positive self-image and promote a sense of belonging and inclusion. They should also encourage students to embrace diversity and respect differences. They should foster creativity and innovation in students, provide opportunities for students to explore their passions and interests and encourage them to think outside the box. Schools and teachers should create an environment that is conducive to learning and experimentation, where the students feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes. Some schools, especially private-run, offer appropriate guidance and resources to both parents and children. They do work alongside parents to guide and support the children towards developing into mentally strong personalities by establishing effective communication channels, providing a consistent and supportive environment and offering appropriate guidance and resources. But these mechanisms are rare, if not non-existent, in schools that are run by the Government. With the exception of some very well-run private schools, there are hardly any effective communication channels between parents and school authorities. Communication builds trust ~ and trust is crucial in any child’s growth. It is imperative that schools provide a consistent and supportive environment for children. They should set clear expectations, provide structure and routine and create a safe and welcoming environment where children can feel comfortable expressing themselves. The mental well-being of children has become a critical concern for both parents and teachers. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the impact that mental health has on children’s overall well-being and development. Several factors have contributed to this shift in focus. According to various studies, the incidence of mental health issues among children has increased significantly over the past decade. Issues such as anxiety, depression, and behavioural problems have become more prevalent among children, highlighting the need for greater attention to be paid to mental health. Schools can also work with parents to identify and address any underlying issues that may be impacting the child’s mental health. They can collaborate with parents to identify external support services and resources, such as counselling services or support groups, and help the child access them. It is not just about placing the student in the toppers list but also nurturing and protecting them.