Showing posts with label Result. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Result. Show all posts

22 September 2014

Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?

People are closing the chapter on the Suicide too soon, yet again, as expected. It's just a few of us who thought things will change forever, that the death of two young people hanging by one tree would awaken the country to the grave reality of suicide. Are you going to wait till someone hangs on the tree at your gate? Or will it take someone to hang on your bedroom fan to make it matter to you personally?

Suicide is a very fragile subject, which is differently understood by different people: Some think it's brave act to face one's death, while other say that someone who can't face life's problem is a coward. Some explain how it's an unchangeable fate, while others believe it's impetuous stunt to prove a point.

1957 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Albert Camus makes it sound so simple when he says, “Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?” Suicides are generally driven by simple problems that could be solved easily over a cup of coffee, if only we could hold on for that long, because it seems that for the victims there is no bigger problem at that point in time. That's why we need to discuss it, and make professional help easily accessible to people in problem. 

March 10, 1997: It was the reporting date for class VIII students in Paro Gaupay. Class VII students were announced to report after Paro Tshechu. I didn't receive my result sheet, which was to be delivered by post in January. However, nobody really bothered about my missing result because they knew I was the best. I had the reputation of being 'the boy who never failed' both at home and in the village. So they packed my bags and sent me on March 10.

My uncle was an army officer and he sent me in an Army DCM truck with several children from army camp. Those kids had received their results and their seat in class VIII were confirmed while I was to visit the headmaster and get my result first.

The driver uncle accompanied me to the headmaster's office, he looked confident because he heard from my uncle about how good I was. The headmaster knew me well because of the several visits I paid to his office the last year, and he was so pleased to hand over the result without even punishing me for not having submitted postal address like other kids. I have failed in three subjects. Headmaster told driver uncle to take me back home and send me after tshechu holidays, because that's when class VII students should report.

I turned numb with shame and guilt. I was scared. The army driver who heard so much about me from my uncle was thoroughly confused. He reloaded my bags into the DCM and asked me to join him in the front of the truck. I refused his offer and climbed on the back of the truck, where I was alone now because all the other children had passed and were staying back.

Then as we began our journey back to Dechencholing my fear began to escalate. I couldn't imagine facing the crowd at home. I feared my uncle even in normal times. That's when I decided to jump of the moving truck. I thought to myself- what would they do if I died? Would they forgive me? What if I got seriously injured? Would they forgive me? Hundreds of thoughts asking each other questions and making answers.

I still get cold feet when I think of that moment, that delicate moment when I was ready to jump. Then I sat down and calculated what would happen in the worse case scenario? How much will they scold me or beat me? By tomorrow morning won't everything be over? That decision I took that day, with half my body hanging from a moving truck was the best I took. I thank that 13 year old me for saving me.

We reached home at dinner time. The army driver knocked on the door, and upon calling he went in and gave a loud salute to my uncle, who was having dinner with houseful of family members - we usually have no less than 15 people seated at a meal.

"So you are back from Paro?" Asked my uncle,
"Yes Dasho" Army driver replied. I could hear the beat of my heart in my mouth.

"Did you reach my boy to his school?"

"No Dasho, I brought him back."

"He has failed, and Headmaster told him to come after Paro Tshechu."
All 15 people in the house laughed long and loud, and amidst their laughter I made my entry with a timid smile. They laughed more. And I laughed too. Someone went to pick my plate and I joined them. Nobody even scolded me.

The fear, shame and guilt were my own construction for which I nearly jumped of the truck. Over the funny dinner I thought what would have happened to this wonderful dinner if I had jumped.

After that year I never looked back. I rebuilt my "the boy who never failed" reputation at home and in village. Became the first boy from my village to qualify from class X, and from XII. Got degree, became a happy teacher and lived to write this post.

10 July 2014

My Ninzi's First Progress Report

My daughter will always cherish Kids R’ Kids Day Care center as her first school as much as Kezang and I acknowledge, where she was enrolled since last year. She spent the first year in play group, just playing the whole time. It was there that she learned to make friends. She knew every friend by their names. She held high regards for her teachers, following their every word religiously.
Ninzi in Action
Beginning this year she began real schooling, beginning with Alphabets. We literally know everything that’s going on in her classroom because she would relive whole her day at home in the evening, word by word. We have never expected her to be so excited about her studies that she will keep us sleepless with her questions day in day out. She would complain about her being behind most of her senior friends and strive to catch up with them. Even in her sleep she will be practicing spellings of certain new words she learned in school.
While I always remained amazed at the pace of her learning and amount of things she was picking up I thought everything was random until we received her file on the last day of the first term.
Progress Report
It was a huge file containing every little thing she has done in the school with a progress report attached in the front. Flipping through the pages I could visualize how my little daughter spent her time in the school, day after day, lines and dots, word by word and I was so touched by the way the school has put everything together. This gave me a greater reason to cherish my daughter first school.
What my girl was learning, the words she was practicing, the objects she was drawing, the endless questions she asked weren't just random things, they were part of a a highly organized and progressive learning. The progress report states that my little one can:
  1. Recognize 26 Alphabets  and their sounds
  2. Write simple words and speak them
  3. Speak out number 1-10 (Of course she can dial my number already)
  4. Match number with quantities
  5. Recognize national symbols 
  6. Recognize body parts
  7. Recognize vegetables and Fruits 
Her Drawings
And beyond what is reflected in there she can recognize shapes and colors flawlessly. She can reproduce simple drawings. She can speak out Days of the week... and this makes her greater than her father has ever been at her age. In fact, I had been trying to make sense of all these when I was in grade II. My girl is yet to go to formal primary school and I am already a thoroughly proud father. Thanks you Kids R' Kids and the teachers there.
Body Parts

19 February 2014

Changing 200 Lives

10,659 students appeared class X examination in December 2013, of which 95.93% (10,225) passed the exam. Of course there is hardly any excitement in passing class X because there is a huge gap between passing the exam and qualifying for class XI. While you can pass with just 35% it take 61% to make it to class XI this year.

While the 4.07% of students who fail could repeat in government school, over 5000 students who passed but couldn't score qualification mark are left to their own fate. For some it could be the end of their educational journey.

I don't really understand the Maths and Science behind setting the cut off point at certain percent, so I am assuming that it's fixed based on the available seats in government schools. If that's the case, and hopefully should be, what happens to the seats of those students who qualified for government school but for some reason choose to study in private schools?

Private school business is booming with world class strategies. Within the last few year they have shifted from school for disqualified students to school for toppers. With very welcoming infrastructure and unique systems in place private school are attracting parents and students alike. It has become a culture over the last few year for the brilliant students to leave for private school after class X mostly on scholarship. There are also many students who despite qualifying for free education in government school still opt to pay heavy fees and study in private school.

This trend, I humbly assume, will at least create 200 vacancies in government schools, or twice more. Keeping these seats empty has no benefit for the government. However if these seats are gifted as scholarship to 200 disqualified students who are socially very good, emotionally very intelligent but economically challenged, it can be a national investment. It will be an acknowledgement for being a good human being. They may go grow up to change this country for better. In them we might get the future prime minister of Bhutan. Education should not be limited to those who do well in exam.

Dear Education Ministry, Please use this opportunity to change at least 200 lives.

14 February 2014

Wasting Second Chance

The following news last year sounded like a piece of soothing music. It was something I always wished for. I was so happy for my students who try so hard, for the students who come from difficult economic background, for the students whose luck run out when it's most needed. All of them are going to have a second chance now.
"The government has decided to allow students, who fail in classes X and XII board examinations to repeat once in the same school from the next academic year." -Kuensel 2013, Nov
 “What we're doing is very little and of course there are risks involved, but that won't stop us from giving a second chance to students, who’re genuinely in need of a second chance to complete their schooling,” -Education Minister 
Now the board exam results are declared. There are students with excellent marks. There are ones who just made it. There are ones who missed by few marks and there are the ones who failed clearly. And suddenly my excitement about the 'second chance' disappeared. I was looking at my school result sheet and studying the marks. I was feeling differently for different groups of students: Happy for the ones on the top of the list, sorry for the middle ones, and upset with bottom of the list.
It's more upsetting to realise that only the ones who failed are going to get the second chance. There could be some students with serious learning difficulties, otherwise failing is a very difficult thing to do in board exams with pass percent of just 40% for XII and 35% X. It only means they didn't bother much (Very evident from the result sheet I am holding).
If anybody deserves second chance it the group of students who passed the exam but failed to clear the qualifying mark by few points. They are the ones who tried. Their efforts should be acknowledged by a second chance. But the policy does not allow this.
However, the policy would be reviewed from time to time when necessary, so that the “privilege is utilised judiciously.”   -Education Minister
I am hopeful that with one of implementation we would realize the flaw in it and consider better ways so that the second chances are not wasted.

01 March 2013

Rejected Seats in Government Schools

Last year at this time I was going through a similar feeling and almost the same thought when I wrote "The Best School in Bhutan" where I was trying to differentiate my definition of best school and the definition people and even the authorities have put together. Nothing changed ever since but it brought personal gratification, having figured out the foolishness with which people hunger for reputation and glamour.
Education Ministry defines Class XI intake capacity every year, based on which the qualification mark is set but the recent trend of brilliant students choosing private schools over government school raises one important concern: has the government studied and considered the number of qualified students not take their privileges and therefore leaving seats in government school vacant, which could be otherwise given to students who ran short by a few points? I am of the opinion that we should keep at least over 100 students in standby, who could be considered in government schools after private school admissions are over.
There are students with brilliant marks who are welcomed into private schools and there are students with brilliant parents who can take their kids to private school for so many reasons despite having qualified but on the down side there are students who neither have brilliant marks nor have brilliant parents, for them it's the end of their schooling life. Giving away those seats rejected by the lucky students to those for whom the road has ended would be godly. No less than 100 seats are rejected every year, which could other wise change 100 lives forever.

There should be a system in place to find how many more students can each school take after the admissions are over to make full use of government resources, after all a class of 20 students takes as much resources as that of class with 40 students.
A simple example from my school might shed light on the wider picture: 66 students qualified for class XI, of which the top five students (with 85%- 92.8%) have opted to move to private school on special admissions and one has changed school. A few new students came in from other schools but the whole total could only make up for a section of Science and Commerce stream each. One student who want to take up Arts stream had to be moved to Punakha because we didn't have enough students to begin that stream. We have done the same for the last three years in row after we phased out boarding felicities. My school alone has provision for at least 30 Arts students who can put up on their own as day scholars, and I am sure there could be many schools who same capability.This happened not because of our ministry's miscalculation but by the outflow of qualified students to private schools- which of course is not tracked and considered.
How do we track the outflow? What provisions can be created to make maximum use of government schools and give higher education to as many children as possible?

29 July 2011

School Boy who pays his own fees

Last week we called all our students' parents to mid-term result day. And in the presence of the parents we announced how we mistakenly collected Nu.100 extra from junior classes as school fees and that we were going to give that back. In my class VII C, I have 24 students whose parents came in one after another to sign on mark sheet and to collect the money.
Suddenly there was one father who didn't take the money, and asked me to give it to the boy himself! I insisted him on taking the money, reasoning that the money must go to where it came from, or it may disappear between school and home. The father proudly said that the money belonged to the boy, he paid his own school fee and even helped parents in household shopping from his winter earnings.
I looked at lean Tej Prasad for a long time and admired the man in him. I made the class applaud for him and asked them to get inspired from him. Age should not be an excuse. For the first time I loved the boy who pays his own fees more than the Monk who sold his Ferrari!

13 July 2011

Dear Students, summer gift to your parents,

I have been thinking of the divine relationship between parents and children for quite sometime, even before I became a father. And it occurred to me that children are innocently selfish. Every child expects the whole world to revolve around him, and parents make sure that it does. Parents place their hearts in every selfish achievement of their children.
I am mentioning this to you at this time of the year to remind you that it about time to give your parents a gift. Not that sort of a gift where you take money from your parents to buy them one, but something that you have achieved on your own- your exam result.
I don’t know if you would rejoice the pride of your father who comes home with the news of him being appreciated by his boss, or joy of your mother who met her childhood friend after fifteen years (because kids only find joy in things that matter to them), but I can assure you that both your parents will be the happiest if you walk home with your mark sheet filled with very good marks. They will pass your mark sheet to each other for countless times as if it’s a million Ngultrum check. They will talk about your result to anybody who visits your home, and then they will tour their friends’ homes to talk more about it.
If you realize it there is nothing in there to talk so much about (you spent last six months in school just for that)- your marks no matter how high won’t help them pay their house rent, not even the water bill. Your marks help no one other than you yet it brings happiness to your parents, which only means how easy it is to please your parents. Just reflect on how much your parents put in to please you each day ever since you were born, and ask yourselves if you were ever perfectly happy. The answer will most probably be No, and this indicates how hard it is to please you, despite all their sweat and blood. And there you are, just having to bring in a good mark sheet and your parents are flattered.
Knowing this is as simple as this; will you still deprive your parents of a gift this summer?

CC: Jigme, with love!