The Dangers of South Asia’s Education System

In South-Asia, the ranking system is a component of the education system and has been practiced blindly for years. The century-old practice ranks persons based on the grade from tests or exams, displaying all student’s scores from best to worst. Although the ranking system may motivate students to work harder, the negative outcomes outweigh the benefits. The ranking system may cause psychological damage, including depression, lack of self-worth, and suicide, and takes away the meaning of school.

As a victim of the negative impacts, I faced severe self-hatred and anxiety. Instead of enjoying my childhood and spending time with my friends, I constantly studied to attain rankings. I lost my childhood to endless stress and self-hatred. Every day, I had panic attacks and nightmares. I would think, “I studied for twenty hours for this test. If I don’t do well, I must just be stupid. How much did Kanya get? She did better than me, even though she studied for only 2 hours. I hate myself. I wish I was her.” Whenever I didn’t place first, I would put myself down and fall into a cycle of self-deprecation. Constant comparison with students led to the destruction of our self-worth as grades began defining us. However, students struggling with understanding concepts had the hardest time. Time after time, their flaws and low results would be mocked by the teacher as they would place last. Even if they tried, their ranks would be displayed to everyone and at one point, they would break. Rather than friendly competitiveness, the competition for attaining the first rank transformed into anger and jealousy. For instance, my classmate started lying about the syllabus of certain tests and stopped helping me. The obsession with ranking surpassed the strength of our friendship and during exam weeks, all hell broke loose. Constant fighting, unhealthy amounts of studying, and stress dominated our lives.

Looking back, I have no positive memories of middle school and I largely blame the ranking system. We involuntarily participated in a race, wherein we had to surpass everyone, no matter what it took. Even if we got hurt, we ignored our wounds and continued as another person would surpass us. The ranking system proved deadly and took away happiness from my childhood, which is why it should be reconsidered.

Picture Credit: “Book Sale Haul” by byzantiumbooks is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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