In India, if you ask any student this simple question, “How are your studies going on?” regardless of his background, you can find words like pressure and anxiety in their honest replies.
As per official stats by the National Crime Records Bureau, at least one student commits suicide in India every hour, and this number rises to almost 28 suicides every day.
Every day! Yes, you read it right. Is it because of parental pressure, academic pressure, caste pressure, or understanding failure? Well, I think everyone is aware of this harsh reality and knows the answer, but no one wants to talk about it because every parent wants their children to be the best.
According to the lancet journals article, India's suicides are highest in the age group of 15–29, which includes high school students, college students, and amateurs in the corporate sector.
Been there, done that!
Being a part of this rat race by myself, I agree that every parent has certain expectations from their kids, but that does not mean that they should ignore their children's mental well-being like it does not exist. I have heard many parents saying that “mental pressure is just a myth and just an excuse for the weak children.” Really? What do you think?
“Taare Zameen Par”
It’s a Bollywood movie that is a perfect example of Indian society. A boy called “Ishaan” who has dyslexia, is criticized by his father for his poor academic performance and is sent away to a boarding school.
Till a decade ago, when the world was different and less digital, parents could be dictatorial with their sons and daughters without worrying about the consequences. They rampantly compared one child with another in the family or the neighbourhood or school.
But now, the time is not the same as children have turned more sensitive. However, unfortunately, some parents continue to be an exception, and they still stick to the old, rejected methods of driving their innocent and creative children.
WhiteHat Jr Told To Remove Misleading Ads After Social Media Furore
To my surprise, last month when I was watching an IPL match (it’s a professional Twenty20 cricket league in India), I saw an advertisement from a company called “WhiteHat Jr.” (apparently sold to Byju’s in a $300 million all-cash deal 3 months ago) which was to promote coding education among 10–12 years kids.
The ad featured a 6th Class boy who has developed his own mobile app, and investors are fighting outside his house to invest in it.
6th-grade students are now forced to learn to code just because Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg were child prodigies and Sundar Pichai is from India? To my surprise, that kid’s parents were proudly showing off that their kid has made his own app by learning coding skills from this online platform, and others should also do that, and foreign investors are fighting in front of their house to sign a deal. Really?
When I searched LinkedIn to understand other industry experts' sentiments about this topic, I came across a trending post by ‘Neha Jain,’ the founder of some start-up company.
She alleged that her son started getting depressed after joining one of their classes. She wrote: “My nine-year-old kid is a student of WhiteHat Jr for the last five months. The assigned teacher called herself a child psychiatrist. She played with my child’s mindset and was very rude to him. My son, who is the 1st rank holder in his class, started getting depressed”.
Wasn’t digitization an opportunity to eradicate inequity in education?
I totally agree that coding is a skill, and learning code early has its own advantages. Like learning competency at an early stage of life, that does not mean that we shouldn’t make kids learn how to code, but coding definitely does not equate to money. Hence, children should ‘learn to code’ by not setting the right precedent if we want it to be an important part of the curriculum like art, music, sports, or physical and mental education.
Yes, these kinds of ads are facing flak, and people are poking fun at them by making memes and jokes, but I am afraid, how much impact will this online mocking have? It will be just another social media ‘trending topic,’ and it will fade away in weeks or just days.
My point is — Instead of just showing the coding ads at the prominent time when everyone watches TV, these EdTech companies should encourage parents to allow children to follow their hearts, choose the fields they really want to pursue a career in, and do not kill those “creative spark” in their childhood itself. Rather, they should be uplifted and cheered when they do what makes them happy because no one is really unsure about the future and jobs, especially in this pandemic virtual era.
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