By Ayaz Nabi Malik/Mohd Asif Shah
After having appeared in board exams, young boys and girls go through much anxiety, more so nowadays for they come into focus on result day. They become a subject of discussion in extended families and neighborhoods. Young students dread the day, thinking what would happen if they couldn’t make it – to the top that is. And if you happen to figure among the toppers, you suddenly become the cynosure of all eyes (albeit for the time being).
It does not take long for a festival to arrive at the homes of those who have made it to the top. The household echoes with congratulatory messages and sweets are exchanged. The star of the occasion is hugged, kissed and patted by one and all, taking him to cloud nine. On the contrary, if your name doesn’t show among the toppers, though you may have done reasonably well, you are subjected to ‘comparative taunts’ everywhere you go. This is the misery the children dread all the time!
Amid the din of success and euphoria in the household of the ‘successful’ one, we forget the ‘other’, the one who may have missed the bus by a whisker, or the one who didn’t do so well. They are instantly rejected into a lesser category and dubbed as ‘failures’ at a ridiculously early stage in life.
Mind you, no one likes ‘failure’ as a hobby or a tag. So, there are and must be certain factors which lead many students to the so-called category of failure. Some students are needlessly careless and lethargic during the academic calendar, which makes their failure obvious. Such students never win anyone’s sympathy despite making umpteen excuses. Instead their remorse, abuses and punishment makes for a perfect foil to the success euphoria of the passing students.
But there is another group of “failing students” who fail to impress because of utmost poverty; because of lack of parental guidance; because of the lack of required counseling and coaching; because of the non-availability of requisite sources (books and study material etc) and because of so many (otherwise) unnoticed impediments. How generous, sincere and heartening it would be if such failing students were at least once patted or just encouraged by simple words, like “Don’t worry, dear. Work harder and you will surely succeed”.
But ironically the scenario is that our society is only driven by utilitarian and success motives. Failures have never been allowed to survive or breathe properly. We are not generous enough to spare a thought or some time for these failing students, who definitely have certain legitimate excuses and handicaps. Instead, from the Mantri to the Santri, everyone gets busy in the sprint to congratulate the toppers.
Of course, there is no harm in praising and congratulating the deservedly successful students, but what hurts is that it is done at the cost of unconsciously neglecting, ostracising and alienating the so-called failing ones.
The recent phenomenon of VVIPs and the people at the helm coming out of their cozy quarters to visit, in person, the toppers’ homes and the media hype prolongs the ordeal for those who couldn’t make it up there. Also, through this sudden shooting into fame, these students could easily be carried away with the extravagance of the pomp and show.
Even if a minister, or a director school education, a DC, an SSP or any other official does not visit the toppers’ homes, how could it belittle or harm their achievement? They can easily congratulate the successful students through a private message, without burdening the public exchequer. It is the failed ones who need to be back-patted, counseled and guided with wisdom and sincerity. They too can shine bright if their flames are shielded from the wind. We just need to hear them out. Maybe their aptitudes are different and we are stuffing them with subjects they don’t like.
Everyone is born with an innately special talent and it is the main aim of education to bring out that peculiar gift. Remember, human history offers some glaring examples of the vast contribution made by the once-upon-a-time failed ones. They also failed miserably before they finally became a Thomas Edison, an A. Lincoln, an Einstein, a Steve Jobs, an Oprah Winfrey, a Michael Jordon, a JK Rowling.
By basking in the reflected glory of the shining students, we unmindfully torment the less successful students. Let us spare a thought for them as well.
—The writers can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org & khushasif25@gmailcom