Supriya Rani, a Class 12 student from Deoghar, Jharkhand, recounts the mental trauma of a child waiting endlessly for her examinations amid the pandemic
I had never thought my first few steps into the grown-up world would be so shaky. I had so many dreams and plans for my Class 12 stint, the last year in school before we joined a university. But coronavirus turned everything upside down. I didn’t get to make new friends, nor could I interact with our teachers in person. Unlike in many schools with Plus 2 provision where the student-teacher bonding has existed for years, and the teacher knows each student’s weaknesses and strengths, we felt stranded.
We were still somehow trudging along, but the persistent delay in holding of Class 12 exams is now beginning to get on my nerves. Just how many times can we study the same things over and over again? You know, you kind of lose vigilance and focus if you are always prepared but the event you are prepared for doesn’t happen. I haven’t seen the face of my college building since the end of my Class 11 term, except for a few days in between when we went to complete the official paperwork for our Board exams.
Online classes weren’t held for us because not everyone has access to smartphones in smaller towns. We were sent study links over WhatsApp groups and that was about it. No Zoom Classes, no video calls. It was my tuition classes that took place in my own street that turned out to be a saviour for me. A batch of 15 students was allowed at a time and we would follow all social distancing measures as well as hygiene practices.
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Any time someone fell ill due to corona or any other reason, the classes would be called off and Sir would take online classes through video calls. I didn’t want to take up Engineering so I didn’t have to deal with competitive exams being continuously delayed. I want to either do Maths or English Honours for my graduation, given that I love both the subjects so much.
I am not a group study kind of person, but it would have been nice to have at least one friend study with me, so that we could exchange notes and also unwind with each other during breaks. I would have loved to be able to go out during breaks and meet my friends. Seeing your friends over video calls isn’t the same thing as seeing them in person.
My parents and two elder brothers have been keeping me motivated and have told me to hold fort for some time, for surely a solution will come up in time. Both my brothers are quite elder to me and have told me I can approach them anytime with either my study-related queries or future-related queries. They say it is equally important to take care of my health and to have a little fun to keep myself energised. I take one hour long walks on the terrace to relax and also help my family with household chores sometimes.
I had plans to go and study in a bigger city, but now with the pall of Covid looming large over us, staying alone in another city for kids just on the brink of adulthood is no more an easy option. Deoghar is relatively a medium-level town and I wonder how the schoolkids have been impacted in rural areas.
Online exams can only be conducted in large cities and not in areas with erractive net connectivity, so that doesn’t seem like a possibility. And what if someone gets infected during the exam dates. Do they lose a whole year for no fault of theirs? I think among all age groups, those of us on the brink of adulthood are the most affected. We can’t even get vaccinated because we aren’t 18 yet. We will need extra support from future institutions of study and workplaces if our generation is to stand strong. May this pandemic get over soon.
Note: The board exams were cancelled by the Central government soon after this Lok Story was published
As told to Yog Maya Singh