Hyderabad: Even a week after Telangana state Intermediate exam results were out, the phones of psychologists have not stopped ringing. “Just after the results were announced, I received around 400-500 calls in two days. Most of the students were worried about their failure or bad performance and were desperate to listen to some consolation,” says Dr. Anitha, one of the psychologists hired by the Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education (TSBIE).
This year, the TSBIE had appointed seven clinical psychologists to provide assistance to the students facing exam-related issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. The Covid-19 lockdown added to the students’ stress as there was constant surveillance of the parents, a psychologist opined.
“A majority of the students complained to me that the presence of their parents at home 24x7 was taking a toll on their studies because they were pressurised constantly. The presence of parents was like a CCTV camera for them and students react differently when they are watched,” said Jawaharlal Nehru P., a consulting clinical psychologist working in Apollo Hospitals.
The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown on students was mostly indirect, he said. “Loss of a peer group to discuss about studies has taken a toll on some students. Some complained about not being able to meet their friends and study together or even just talk to them. Friends are important stress busters, so when you deprive them of peer interactions, it will have an effect on students,” the psychologist added.
According to Dr. Anitha, Covid-19 was not a major concern for the students who called her seeking assistance. She opined that the real issue was something else: that students need to be trained on how to write an exam, how differently to write each answer.
“This training was lacking in many students I spoke to. It’s not like they don’t know the answer, they know it but they do not know what they need to focus more while writing the answers. This will then result in low confidence, panic, and ultimately lead to bad performance,” she pointed out.
She also said that psychologically, students’ suicides cannot be due to a single factor. “A combination of multiple factors a student might have experienced over the days lead to frustration. These factors might not be relating to academics or exams too. Students are not taught innovatively, not taught how to deal with tricky questions. In this scenario, it becomes hard to cope with failure,” she said.
Some students also questioned the state government as to why they were not being automatically promoted as few other states have done. “My phone was ringing non-stop after the Inter results. But what I heard commonly from the students was the feeling of worthlessness after a bad performance in exams, fuelled by the Covid-induced lockdown. The key is to break the cycle and let them know that someone is listening and their feelings are valid. That has helped a lot of students to cope up,” said Dr. Mazhar Ali, another clinical psychologist who counselled the Inter students.
In 2019, discrepancies in the Intermediate exam results had sparked massive outrage among students with 22 students dying by suicide. The Board had however maintained that the suicides are due to dejection among the students due to low marks and has nothing to do with the technical error in displaying results.