From stress to social media to NEP: Modi tackles a range of questions at Pariksha Pe Charcha

At the fifth edition of ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dealt with a myriad set of issues related to exams and education, including stress management, dealing with social media distractions and choosing between competitive and school exams. He also spoke of the National Education Policy and the role of women in education.

The event was held at Talkatora Stadium and saw the presence of around 1000 students from schools of Delhi NCR, along with their teachers.

Asked by students how they should deal with exam stress, Modi said, “You are not giving exams for the first time. You have sat for many exams earlier… After crossing the whole ocean, the fear of drowning at the shore seems quite unfounded. First, you have to resolve that exams are part of a life. By giving exams so many times, you are exam proof. Therefore, do not be stressed. Remember that you have successfully overcome such exams before.”

He said students should appear for exams in a “festive mood” and without any stress.

On questions of how one could avoid distraction from social media or online gaming during online education, he said technology was not a bane and it should be used effectively. He said students can use ‘online’ medium to gain knowledge and execute it offline.

“When you read, do you actually read or watch reels? In reality, the fault does not lie with online or offline… The very same things that happen offline happens online as well. This means the medium is not the problem; it is our mann (mind) which is the problem. If we are interested in what is being taught, then online or offline doesn’t matter,” he said.

Modi also spoke of the National Education Policy and underlined that the consultation for it had been exhaustive covering a period of 6-7 years. On the need for such a policy, he said, “Outdated ideas and policies from the 20th century can’t guide our development trajectory in the 21st century. We have to change with the times.”

“Earlier sports were considered an extracurricular activity. Now under the NEP, it has been a made part of education. Khelna khilne ke liye bohot anivarya hota hai (Sports is essential for blossoming)… It teaches us team spirit and courage, but this was outside our educational system… This will yield results in the future,” he said.

Modi also said that “unfulfilled dreams of parents and teachers can’t be forced upon children”.

“You try to reject your expectations and ambitions in your children… Children have to go through these confused and contradictory expectations of parents and teachers which becomes a huge source of stress for them… When we don’t try to understand students and what their aptitude , expectations and wishes, and they fall under pressure, they falter… It is important for each child to follow his or her dreams,” he said.

Asked by students how they can avoid procrastination, he said, “There is no injection or formula for motivation. Instead, discover yourself better, find out what makes you happy and work on that. Do things that you enjoy and that is when you will get maximum outcome,” he said.

The PM also addressed the dilemma of students who said they did not know whether to focus on competitive exams or their Board exams. He advised them to study everything in a holistic manner. “Don’t prepare for specific exams, prepare and work hard to be a capable, educated person,” he said, adding that the nature of the exam will then not make any difference.

He also said everyone has their own process of studying and students should observe themselves and find what’s comfortable for them, since there was no one fixed way for everyone.

Modi also touched upon the need for equal opportunities for girls in the education system. “Girls are doing well in everything from science to sports, or even in class 10 and 12 board results they are on the top. They have become assets for their family,” he said.

The first three editions of PPC were held in an interactive town-hall format in the capital. The fourth edition was held online on April 7 last year due to the Covid pandemic.