Grades that determine life and death

Published: April 1, 2012

Did the students kill themselves because they were being pressured by their parents to earn good grades?

If three boys in Lower Dir can take their own lives by drinking poison, simply because they failed an annual exam, one must stop to ponder: were the students being pressured by their parents to earn good grades? Did the thought of failing and embarrassing themselves in front of their fellow students push them to the point of suicide? Were they haunted by thoughts of a future with no education and little financial support? Or, were they just too young and naive and sought the ultimate form of escape?

I fail to understand how children that young could muster the courage to knowingly end their lives over one failure. In the past, students took lives, but not their own — it was usually the teacher who took a bullet to the head. When I was in fifth grade, I remember missing my midterm exams because I was down with jaundice. The joy of missing the exams was doubled with all the sympathy I received from teachers and peers. This included the occasional ‘don’t stress over it, you’ll nail the finals’, from my parents who threw unwavering support my way. Those good old days, alas, have been replaced with fear, fear of failing a school exam.

Since the idea of getting a good job is difficult to implant in the minds of 10 or 13-year-olds, we come to the possibilities of either parents creating stress levels — to the point of being characterised as an epidemic — or worse, peer pressure. In the case of the three boys, I believe it is the latter as this popular culture has spread its evil roots to penetrate the minds of most youths. Imagine the disgrace of being called a ‘repeater’ at school and qualifying as the ‘backbencher’ of the classroom.

When overwhelmed by thoughts of being humiliated, always remember that sitting beside you might also be a chotu (little), motu (fat) or chamcha (flatterer), who has managed to see beyond these labels and has embraced life with the many obstacles it brings forth. Earning good grades surely helps boost self-esteem and elevates you in the eyes of your peers but just in case you secure a failing grade, don’t feel  let down since you will get another chance to get things right.

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Dilaira Dubash

Dilaira Dubash

A sub-editor for The Express Tribune weekly magazine

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

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