Now that the results of the truncated class ten and twelve board exams are being announced, there are celebrations to be witnessed in the homes of achievers around the country. Although the COVID-19 pandemic put a serious spanner in the works, the various boards have managed to deliver the results. It will now be a challenge to hold the various post-school entrance examinations that provide a gateway to colleges, universities and professional courses. It is undoubtedly a trying time for students and those entrusted with providing them higher education. That, despite the whimsical nature of bureaucratic diktats which change almost on a daily basis, teachers and college lecturers are somehow getting their job done is a cause for optimism. At the same time, it is almost a certainty that many opportunities will be lost in this academic year to gain desired admissions, or even find placement in jobs for those who are at the fag end of their university or professional education.
Considering that most students have similar kinds of ambitions, the present crisis will also have increased the divide between the financially better off and the less privileged. The simple availability of a smartphone and internet connectivity has set them apart in many cases. The children that already face difficulty in obtaining an education because they live in mountainous and other remote regions, or in city slums and tiny flats, have had a tough time keeping up as compared to those with spacious accommodation and access to open spaces, as well as sophisticated communication devices, during the pandemic. Hopefully, this will have made everybody understand the value of even the ordinary school and the usually underappreciated teachers. Policy makers will surely plan education policies in light of the recent experience.
At the same time, it is also important to remind the children who appeared for the exams that there is more to success than merely getting high grades. It is also to do with how much one managed to overcome the difficulties one faced. The daughter of a domestic help, who has to sometimes help her mother at her job, do the chores around the house, help in the cooking, etc., doesn’t have the luxury of setting up a study routine to prepare for the exams, even if there is energy left to do so. If that child passes the exam, even, it is an achievement, maybe more than that of most top scorers. Although this is an extreme example, this aspect must necessarily be taken into account. It must also be remembered that intelligence and talent have several aspects – in present day society, there are many fields of endeavour where academic excellence has little role to play. In the end, it is courage and resolve that matter.