Too young

  • Admitting children to grade 1 is a tiring, depressing process in Kathmandu
- Shradha Giri Bohara
Too young

Feb 23, 2015-

Like every other mom, I am paranoid when it comes to making life-changing decisions that concerns my little girl. She is a big girl now, she says, and I must admit she is. She will be graduating kindergarten in a couple of months and my palms are already sweating.

Okay, I lied. It is not so much that her graduation is making me sweat as much as it is her admission into grade 1. My husband and I have actually worked it out. We want to admit her in a school that does not force us to go through the usual application process. I witnessed a friend almost go crazy last year—thankfully all turned out well. Am I in for a similar ride? I had already stepped into that vicious cycle; I just had not realised it yet. I snapped out of it today when my colleague asked me why an international school? The first thing I thought was, have you seen the lines in front of those schools during testing? They are sometimes longer than a line of people waiting to buy an Initial Public Opening share. Then I thought, I am refusing to follow the dreadful traditional admission procedure that most parents go through once in their lifetime. Admitting children to grade 1 is a tiring, depressing process in Kathmandu.

Testing kids  

First, why are schools hell bent on testing little children who can hardly sit still in a chair for five minutes? I worry because my daughter will not sit through hours of testing. She may know her ABCs but she does not understand there are repercussions for not answering all the questions—she will be refused admission left and right. I worry because the pressure our schools put on a five to six-year-old is ridiculous. They are expected to read and understand the questions and answer them neatly. They cannot even wipe their bums or their noses properly, forget answering questions and passing a test.

It is unhealthy for a child when parents are adamant on admitting them to schools of their choice. Little children, sometimes as young as five, attend coaching classes because certain schools have so-called ‘standards’ and hence, difficult test questions. Parents admit their children to certain kindergartens for the sole purpose of later admitting them to a particular school. But I understand that parents follow these ridiculous practices because they have no choice and because they want to ensure their children receive the best education they can afford.

I do not even want to go into the details of faulty admission regulations, or the equally ridiculous education system in our country that remains a mere spectator to this fiasco, refraining from taking action even when schools are charging exorbitant admission fees. Some schools interview and even hold focus group discussions amongst the aspiring parents of the aspiring children for admissions. I have yet to comprehend how my intelligence or answers will affect my child’s prospects of getting into a school. And of course, if you cannot speak English, you might as well not have your child apply! It is all beyond our control. What we can control is ensuring that they learn to write three-line answers without properly understanding what they have written down.

Lift the pressure

The pressure and the trauma our children face when they sit through two or even three tests are unimaginable. Children are smart; they resonate with what our thoughts and try to make sure we, the parents, are not let down. But we must understand that there are many things that we can take charge of. We can make sure our children are not subjected to a second round of disappointment, from us.

We forget what we were like as children. We forget how we cherished our parents’ approval and how we drained ourselves emotionally when we did not meet their

expectations.

My husband and I may or may not follow the admission process blindly, but we are sure that we don’t want to force our daughter to sit for tests in different schools. We want to make sure that she isn’t subjected to her first official rejection at the tender age of five. We want to get her educated in a school that will admit her despite the fact that she may not spell or write her name correctly.  

 

Giri-Bohara is Communication Coordinator at Save the Children

Published: 24-02-2015 09:30

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