Indian Education System and Urmila, the Little Sad Girl
Urmila, the little chirpy girl
Urmila was a chirpy little girl who liked to play with her friends and her little doll. Her favourite game was playing teacher. She used to gather her friends and teach them her favourite subject Math and English. Her parents were so proud of her and used to point out how she usually got all the sums correct and sometimes insisted on showing off her talents to everybody who cared to listen. They made her recite tables. She also loved to recite poetry in all the languages she learnt at school. Everyone was sure she had a bright future. Her father was a cab driver who earned enough to send her to a good ‘Convent School’ where he believed she would get the best education.
Till the 5th standard Urmila was quite a good student, but for some reason her grades started falling. In the 7th standard she almost completely stopped taking interest in studies. She would play with her dolls and fought with her mother to avoid sitting down for studies. She had by now stopped playing teacher.
“Urmila sit down to study or no television for you today”, said her mother. Urmila shrugged. She would just throw a tantrum and within some time they would let her watch her favourite tele-serial. Her parents started pleading with her and shouting at her. They did whatever they could to try and make Urmila work harder at studies. But for Urmila studies had become boring. “It is a common phase among school going children,” the parents declared, throwing up their hands. But for something so common it was surprising there was no cure.”Mrs Shetty too was complaining about her son”, exclaimed Urmila”s mother. “But she doesn’t have an answer to this problem either.”
Although Urmila’s parents noticed the change in her attitude although they did not notice the change in her environment. She had to study more subjects now than she had to earlier. There were more things to remember. Teachers did not explain the lessons at school and tuition teachers were interested in completing homework and giving more practice. Urmila’s chirpy spirit was being killed. Her parents too reminded her she was growing. She had to be responsible. She tried to help around the house, but that was not enough. Responsibility meant getting more marks than the neighbors’ son or daughter.
Urmila’s friends too started drifting apart. There were smaller groups in the class now. Every student stuck to their own group.
There was a time when Urmila used to love going to school. School was where her friends were. She loved to play with her friends while waiting for her dad to pick her up. Now she hated going to school because nobody played with her after school. Everyone had extra tuition. She used to sit sadly near the gate waiting for her dad. Where once she used to make her dad wait for her while she played, she now requested him to come early. “Why do you come late dad,” she cried. “If you cannot come in time let me come with the school bus.”
In the 9th standard Urmila had all but given up on her studies. She was petrified of Maths, Science made no sense to her. Even her favourite subject of languages did not have the same appeal. She saw that some of the students did well in class. She felt teachers were biased towards these students. She felt she could recite a poem a lot better than the girl who won the prize for elocution. But she did not know what to say and to whom. She did not trust the teacher. And her parents were more interested in her grades. It was not a surprise to anyone that she failed Class 9.
The Head Mistress regretfully handed over Urmila’s marksheet and leaving certificate to the parents. “We had high hopes from this girl,” she stated. “What happened to her?” Urmila’s parents had the same question burning in their brain. They couldn’t answer. They had felt the headmistress would provide answers, but they were surprised by the question. Maybe, this was a problem they couldn’t understand at all.
They came back home and discussed the future with Urmila. For them it was a discussion. For her it was an ultimatum. Do the matriculation privately. If she passed, then she could finish college. If she failed they would teach her house work and get her married.
A Gloomy Future
Urmila knew that marriage was a threat to make her work hard for the matriculation exam. And she knew marriage was inevitable after graduation also. She had overheard her parents many times that once she graduated her prospects of a good groom would increase.
She wanted to protest. She wanted to complain. She wanted to tell her parents, that she wanted to do something. Become someone in life. But she had no inkling what she would say because she did not know where she would start. She had no idea what to do because most of her friends were in the same dilemma as her.
She wasn’t interested in studies, but it now looked like some years of freedom before she would be married off to a life of motherhood and house work just like her mother. She now looked upon a future that was gloomier than her past.