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As board exams loom, homes turn into battle zones

By Ranjana Narayan, IANS

New Delhi : In thousands of Indian homes, fretting parents are busy banishing TV and online entertainment while their exasperated wards are on a short fuse. These are homes where children are set to take their crucial board examinations in March.

Tension seems to escalate whenever a parent starts keeping count of the hours their wards are studying or chides them for watching TV or chatting with friends for long hours.

“Study, study, study, is all that my mother can think of these days,” says Shashank Ghosh, a Class 10 student who puts in about four-five hours of study daily. “My brain has begun to turn into lead with all the studying. I really want the boards to be over and done with,” he says grumbling.

Over one million students are expected to take the Class 10 and 12 exams conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination.

For the overworked students, studying the entire syllabus for the pre-board exams and then again for the final exam, slated to begin early March for both classes, is a tedious affair that begins to tell on their nerves.

While listening to music, playing some outdoor sports and reading continue to be ways of relaxation, some new ways of leisure catching on among students nowadays are chatting online and multi-player gaming, an addictive fad.

Shashank, who was spending a few hours everyday on online multiplayer gaming, has been warned by his parents not to indulge in it till the boards are over.

His mother’s “order” has obviously not gone down well with the 16-year- old and led to a number of heated arguments between them.

“I had to crack down on him when I found him playing like crazy with some unknown people in Indonesia. I don’t mind him playing games on the computer, but this online thing is something I don’t like,” his mother, Madhu Ghosh, told IANS.

For Aparajita Kumar, another Class 10 student, her long hours of chatting online have led to many unpleasant fights at home.

Her mother, a teacher, says she had to give in to her daughter’s online chatting when she became withdrawn after they put a keyword lock on the computer.

“I just didn’t know what to do with my child. She started sulking and refused to study or talk when I put a lock on the computer. I was then forced to give in. I believe there are many children addicted to such chatting,” she said.

Says Hansa Gandhi, the mother of a Class 12 student preparing for her exams, “In our time we would go for a walk or listen to some music to get over the boredom of studying. Children nowadays are getting more home-bound with their new interest in the computer.”

While Class 10 students can afford to take it a little easy, it is not the case with those preparing for their make or break school leaving exams.

Dhananjay Shankar is buried in his books for more than 10 hours a day preparing for the Class 12 boards. He takes a break during lunch and dinner, when he watches some television, or when he goes for a short walk in the evening.

His father says, “We tell him to play some sport in the evening and take longer breaks, but he says he can’t afford the luxury at this time. Most of his friends are also busy studying long hours.”

Ruchi Kapoor, a counsellor with Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, says of Class 10 students: “More than the children, it is their parents who are stressed these days. They feel their child is not working hard, and what I can do to make them work hard.”

Another reason for the tension among students and their parents is the pressure to choose a line of study with their career in mind, says Kapoor.

With the pre-boards over in most schools, the study leave for the crucial exams is set to begin.

Tulika Chandra, a counsellor with Manav Sthali School, says that children should not stop their extra-curricular activities during exam time.

“If they were going out to play in the evening or to dance classes, they should not stop it. These keep them happy and active. Children become duller by focusing only on studies or going to coaching centres, that only add to their burden,” Chandra said.