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  • Writer's pictureAarohi Patil

The Indian school system and mental health.

My name is Aarohi, and I have been studying in India for the past 1 year. To say that my experience was tough is a slight understatement. Now I have nothing against the Indian schooling system, but I do not agree with all that comes with it.

I am an 18-year-old finishing my 12th standard in an International Baccalaureate (IB) school in Pune. I recognize this privilege that I have which most people do not have access to. With all this said I have had a completely different experience studying abroad for most of my high school years. The cultures are different and with that I have had the opportunity to compare my experience and tell you all about it.

The schooling in India is very rigorous, and even though I haven’t attended schools to learn, I have been to some government schools as a volunteer and have many close friends who I have seen go through the state board. It is hectic, as I’m sure some of you can relate. The students are often faced with a lot of pressure throughout their schooling and honestly, it’s unbelievable how these young children from the age of 7 just get accustomed to being under pressure. This might be considered as a positive for a lot of parents, but for a child’s mental health this is not the best. I am not going to dwell on the factor of parental pressure on children but that is also a link to a disruptive coping strategy that children might find. A coping strategy is one’s way of dealing with a certain stressful situation, which could be humor, alienation of others, denial, relaxation, seeking support, and many more. According to research in an Indian college in Bangalore, students mostly relied on emotional and problem-solving strategies. This had a direct relation with their young formative years and can affect the lives of these young individuals.

As I volunteered with Jazz Hands, I got to talk to a young girl who is aspirational and very enthusiastic but despite all of this she still faces the pressures of studying and learning, under these very uncertain times. This particular interaction made me want to share my experience and compare my experience from learning abroad and in India. When I was studying abroad, I remember that the key area of emphasis was understanding and application of concepts which made the recall much easier. Deadlines were flexible, and one was never judged based on their grades, which made pressure an unknown concept to me back then. However, when I moved to India for my 12th, things were exactly the opposite. Even though I attend an IB school that aims for more widespread learning, the pressure is as much as a normal Indian school and with the 6 subjects I take, I have 4 essays and one 4000-word thesis that will be used to decide my eligibility for a diploma. Now I do not mean to complain as I chose to do this course. It appears like the system in my school is to finish everything as early and possible, crunching deadlines together and finish the syllabus for the exams. The way of doing this particular course is different everywhere but the Indian system is such, that pressure, work, and school must go hand in hand. It is said that there is no other way and this prepares us for the “real world”.

The past year has affected people’s mental health in so many different ways. I felt quite lost and a sense of uncertainty at times. I can’t imagine how people who couldn’t attend school felt. However, the pressure put on me cannot be ignored, making me feel like there was no time with everything going by so quickly. The last month itself feels like a haze, and the entire year also a distant memory. Pressure is not meant to be taken or given. The system in India fails to understand this as the results seem positive on the surface. We have so many Indians all over the world representing the nation in NASA, Google, and other such respectable firms. But despite all that, one cannot ignore the downsides of the same. Deaths, disorders, and the brain drain that is resulting in a good chunk of Indian students wanting to study abroad. It is scary how a schooling system meant to help you learn causes so much stress and pressure from such a young age.

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Lastly, mental health is so important and the proper attention of this in India is still not quite present. It’s there amongst the younger generation but not the older. As someone who has the privilege to be able to study in these times, I understand what would be the case for individuals who aren’t able to. The system doesn’t make anything better for any of these situations. Although I strongly believe that as we move ahead with this generation our systems might change but it is hard to be certain. I hope they will and children can be less stressed and learn to handle situations when under pressure with strategies and not make it a way of living. Here too people might think this is the way, we should be like this. That is your opinion, this is mine. These were my experiences and thoughts on mental health and the Indian school system as a 12th studying in India.

Note- The views, information, and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of Jazz Hands Foundation.

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