Introduction Some four years ago, there was a series of YouTube videos showing anxious parents waiting to admit their tenth-standard qualified children into some famous three or four schools at Rasipuram, a small town on the Salem to Namakkal route in Western Tamil Nadu. The admission craze was for the two-year plus two education. It was later revealed that parents had come from as far as Maharashtra to admit their children into these three "centum guaranteed" schools that would charge the parents upwards of Rs. 1,50,000/- per annum. This does not include hostel fees. The children would be put through a horrible "mug up" routine, where so many model tests would be conducted.
Over a period of two years, the children would be trained to score 100% in each of the subjects of Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. Ranipet is not alone. There is a big group of Andhra Pradesh, that prides itself on producing the maximum number of IIT graduates, as it conducts special coaching classes for the JEE examination. It has now diversified into Chennai. One feeds the other. It is the institutions like the aforesaid ones that feed the anxieties of parents and students. On the other hand, the parents also feed such institutions and make them very rich. The AP brand is such a powerful and rich brand now.
It is in this context and background that we need to deal with the anxieties and worries of both students and parents. To this end a) Conduct career fairs b) Strengthen social media communication c) Local language print media should chip in d) Parents need one-to-one counseling and e) Systematically train teachers through experts.
Conduct career fairs To some extent, there is some awareness of alternate careers. There has been a shift towards social sciences and those who aspire to become Civil servants or qualify for other competitive examinations, seem to have shifted towards History and Sociology. However, this is still a trickle. Most parents and students still do not know the full picture. For a good ninety percent of such people, it is either engineering or medicine. In both Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, even if it is a fairly good non-branded engineering college in their local area, the parents force their children into it. The placement does not happen at all. The children follow the apprentice route and are at least sixty months behind their counterparts from branded engineering colleges.
Career fairs need to provide complete information on all alternate careers, particularly ones where the job prospects are good. For example, fashion technology, data analytics, interior decoration, and even advanced research in agriculture with a focus on organic farming are some fields that are bound to grow to the maximum extent.
Strengthen Social media Communication The reach of the television is now total. Even the smallest of villages have access to cable television. However, apart from pure entertainment in the form of horrible television serials that only induce people to violence and hatred, and revenge, there is nothing much going on. The concerned State Governments should initiate a dialogue with such channels, including the local cable TV channels, and telecast some vital videos on careers; it is fine if something comes out of the mouth of professionals. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Rural folks, in particular, are always tempted by what they actually see as proven examples. Mind-set changes cannot happen overnight and the Rasipuram kind of craze cannot be undone overnight. It might need at least five years of sustained hard work, pan India. The State Education Ministers need to be seized of this matter and should initiate action in this regard.
Local language print media should chip inThis is vital as well. Print media in the local languages is still a vehicle of communication in most semi-urban and rural areas. Experts need to write detailed articles on child psychology, advising parents on how to deal with children. Since this generation is also wedded to mobiles and the games played on mobiles, managing children is itself a very challenging task. The parents need tremendous patience and guidance of a tall order to at least manage crisis situations. The lack of time for employed parents is a bigger issue and this has already led to several undesirable consequences, such as too much overdependence on servant maids and so on; there are many dimensions to the problem, and the print media can play a vital role in guiding parents through regular articles in local languages. There are many case studies in the local area and it will help if there are regular articles highlighting the most important issues, and also giving in some details, about the possible solutions to the problems that parents face. In particular, when the child reaches the eighth standard, he or she will positively be able to figure out the best career that would be more in line with his or her natural talent and interests. Any article that can motivate a child in his own language can play a vital role in this process.
Parents need one-to-one counseling Three hours per week should be allotted to each teacher to meet the parents on a one-to-one basis; this becomes very essential in the case of highly emotional and excited parents. Such a personal touch can reduce the magnitude of the problem at least to some extent.
For, the teacher will have first-hand information of wrong perceptions of their own children, that need to be corrected. Furthermore, a rather regular online dialogue in the form of video calls can also enable the process of counseling to be more complete and this can also contribute to the effectiveness.
Systematically train teachers through experts It is not just counseling. It is not just career advice. It is a more comprehensive need to have a wide view of the entire problem and the ability to break it up into the relevant or most important parts that need to be addressed at some point in time. For example, some children are loners. Their social orientation will be a big minus. Experts with rich experience can even be retired Principals, who would have handled such children. When the teacher learns the finer details, he or she is likely to come up with innovative solutions, customized to the needs of a particular group of children, or even one child. This is exactly the kind of training to which each teacher needs to be exposed.
Conclusion Anxieties regarding marks or careers or both, among a wide cross-section of parents and their own idiosyncracies is a highly complex subject in itself. Some ideas, based on real-world experiences and discussions, have been discussed in a general manner above. Hopefully, the ideas can be further extrapolated to specific situations and solutions found to address the issues and problems on hand. Each and every teacher and School Managements have vital roles to play in this regard.
A good write-up from the author. It is true that many parents will have severe anxiety about the studies and careers of their children. In that stress, they expect their children to excel in all the fields and get 100% and they even scold their children and start fighting with the faculty of the school. I have seen this anxiety more in Bank Officers and their wives. They want their sons and daughters to study in IITs only. So they start thinking about their studies from the childhood of their children.Taking this as an advantage many corporate institutes started separate classes for IIT aspirants from the 4th class itself.
In fact, if we think, there is not much difference between 98 and 100 per cent. More depends on the rank the student gets in the entrance test. Another fact these parents should know is that there are many other courses which are also attractive and good for the progress of the child.
As suggested by the author, proper counselling to the parents on this issue may solve the problem. The parents should give more importance to the interest of their child and accordingly they should guide them instead of forcing their wishes on their wards.
Today there is a very tough and competitive environment around us in which the students have to compete and progress ahead. We have a large population and there are so many students coming out of the colleges every year but the vacancies in the industry and job opportunities in other places does not commensurate with that. No doubt it is a very difficult situation. It is very true that under these circumstances an element of anxiety will arise in the minds of students as well as their parents. Coping up with that anxiety is not an easy job because it requires due diligence, pondering, and patience of very high order.
Parents who guide their children from the early stage and continuously monitor their progress as well as give cognizance to the interest and liking of the children generally, are able to help the children in achieving their goals. Once the child gets such a great support from the parents then his psychology of getting anxious decreases much. So a lot in such cases depends on the mind set of the parents and their courage and endurance during the tough times when decisions for making a career is to be taken after a lot of thinking.