For ICSE students help is not on the line

With the month-long ICSE and CBSE board exams under way, the CBSE board is providing dedicated exam helplines to deal with stress. ICSE students, however, have no such facilities

While anxious parents of tense CBSE students have access to dedicated exam help-lines, ICSE students have only their teachers or families to turn to, for help. "If I'm upset with my performance in some exam, I wouldn't want to tell my teacher about it, let alone worry my parents. Their expectations get in the way of my openly discussing these things with them," says Geetha R, a class X student.

The CBSE helpline has been operational every year prior to the exams since the last 12 years. But no such measure is in place for students of ICSE schools.

Parents feel that emotional support can be provided at home, but having an academic helpline might be more beneficial. "The ICSE students should also have some kind of a support system when dealing with exam-related stress. As parents, we can help children sort out emotional issues, but they might need some assistance in other form in academics. And during exams, this can only be provided by a helpline," says Uma R, a parent of a class X student.

Without external support systems, most ICSE schools have an in-built mechanism to help students cope with exam-related problems. "We know how to handle such cases. We have spent six to 10 years with students. So, we know and understand them better than any stranger manning a helpline. Before exams, we sort out all the problems that students, especially low achievers, might be facing. We even advice parents not to pressurise children during their exams," says Mangal Raj, vice principal, St Germain High School.

School administrations state that the students should voice their need for helplines. "If we get requests from students for helplines, we might check with the ICSE board about it. But so far, no one has expressed such a need," says Daphne Das, principal, Seventh Day Adventist School.

Many students and parents feel that everyone should have an access to such helplines, as exam- related stress is common among all students. "Why should only a few have access to these helplines during exams? I think it's only fair that there be a helpline for the ICSE students as well," says Supreetha Skanda, a PUC student.

Counsellors are also in great demand during the exam season. The cases start trickling in ahead of exams, from the month of January and peaks during February and March. "I have been seeing a significant rise in the number of exam-related cases, since the last one-and-a-half months. Prior to the board exams, we even had cases of children refusing to sit for their preparatory exams. Now that the exams have started, they (children and parents) will come to us only if they have a problem," says Ali Khwaja, counsellor, Banjara Academy.

School administrations are unsure if these helplines can actually address the real problems efficiently. "I don't think a helpline can make much of a difference to students during exams. The teacher-student rapport might actually help the child sort out issues more successfully. The coping-up mechanism should be built within the education system," says Capt Unnikrishnan, founder-trustee, Primus Public School.

Jayalakshmi Venugopal/ DNA-Daily News & Analysis Source: 3D Syndication