The ideal school would exist with no flaws. Every student would get top grades, rules would be followed regularly, homework would be assigned in a reasonable amount, and there would be sanitary products and counselors provided. It would be a place where school does exactly what it’s supposed to: discipline children, and prepare them for the world ahead. But every day, students are reminded of how this utopia will remain an idea:

However, problems with schools run deeper than the ones mentioned in the video. There are multiple cases of sexism in schools. When some of my friends were going on a trip to Ooty from the school’s side, they were told that they couldn’t wear “attractive clothes.” This was directed towards girls as young as 12-13 years old. This is just one example. My friends have been dress-coded in the past for wearing ripped jeans or showing their shoulders. But the problem doesn’t end here. All over India, girls are told to cover their legs and shoulders to not distract male students or teachers. Even simple French braids invite comments asking which boy they’re doing it for. Meanwhile, boys are allowed to roam around freely in sleeveless shirts and shorts.

Another major problem, which many would agree with, is the lack of mental health awareness. Each year, as the amount of studying and pressure builds, it gets difficult for anyone to keep up with their grades. India, or CBSE to be specific, refuses to change its syllabus despite continuing the same one for over 30 years. All of these drain students, not to mention any other personal issues they may be struggling through. Teachers also don’t wait for students who have a slower learning speed than the rest of the class. However, at the end of the day, parents and teachers only see the student at fault here. They categorize them as dumb or smart, and treat them based on one generalized opinion they formed. I have some insight into a teacher’s psychology regarding this, thanks to my principal who told us before 10th grade started, “children cannot be stressed or have anxiety.” What angers me is that she said that in a year where we would have an exam every month- yes, 40 marks papers every month. It also happened during the pandemic; I had a lot of friends who were coping with the deaths of family members but were forced to focus on exams. There are no proper means for students to open up about their lives either, due to the lack of counsellors. This also brings light to another issue- teachers who do not understand that students have emotions. While I do understand that teachers are human, too, and may not like every student, they aren’t exempt from respecting students either. Some teachers scream at you for not finishing your homework, because they’re aware of “how busy we are,” and mock you for it. They only focus on completing the course and rush through it, then get angry at you for not grasping a small concept. But others even go as far as to embarrass you, make comments on your appearance, or insult you to the point you cry. It genuinely baffles me, how adults find it okay to say such things to children who are a third of their age and never feel guilty about it. Students either start feeling aloof, don’t interact in class, or start acting out at school. All this ultimately makes it challenging to connect with teachers.

Our schools emphasize memorizing the syllabus and getting a good percentage, which we will never need in life. There are also unsaid expectations for students to take PCM in 11th grade, and become an engineer. You would think that PCB and medicine would also work. But a lot of my friends aspiring to be doctors are constantly told that math would’ve been a better option. Or they were forced to take math as their optional subject. It may also be true that science streams are the hardest of the three. However, people view commerce and humanities as subjects that don’t require studying, despite the huge change in the course from 10th to 11th, regardless of what one chooses. There are plenty of facilities and advisors available if you wish to study engineering, medicine, or finance and management, but there’s barely any information available for literature/social science-related fields. Other schools go as far as to only keep science and commerce as streams- humanities are not even an option.

My final issue with schools is the lack of proper toilets, sanitary products, or clean, drinking water. Despite having a huge number of students, teachers and maids are unpaid and there is scant to no maintenance that is done on toilets. There needs to be at least some free sanitary pads or tampons for students to use, in case of emergency. Students shouldn’t have to pay for such basic facilities, and there need to be dustbins set up in bathrooms to dispose of them too.

The point of being sent to school is to prepare you for the real world, yet there are no subjects that help you with this. I’ve yet to come across a school that has subjects like sex education, even though adolescents need to know about it. We’re left on our own to figure out our future careers, exams to take, or life after college. Most importantly, God forbid boys to learn anything about periods! Many other flaws exist, but they come down to proving that schools are compulsory prisons.

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