Trapped in our own minds with no escape, with no lifeline to pull us out when everything becomes unbearable.
The overwhelming stress and pressure with each rescheduling of the SPM exams.
The constant fear of falling into that section of society who need to battle for their lives.
The lack of motivation to strive, and the indescribable emptiness we feel as each day passes.
The loneliness and the anxiety, leading to another episode of depression that once again tears us down.
My name is Surekha, and as an 18-year-old student, I’ve come to accept that none of this is going to stop if we keep running away and hiding from the truth.
Things are not going to get better soon. More people will be put through the torturous wait for their Covid-19 test results, hoping they turn out negative. More people are going to feel the guilt and burden of passing this coronavirus to the people they cherish and love.
What people choose not to see is how this pandemic has affected students all over the world, mentally and emotionally. Being cooped up in the house, staring at a laptop throughout the day, is not only physically exhausting but also mentally draining.
That said, as an SPM student, I’ve lived to tell the tale: the mental exhaustion, the teary eyes, the pulsating headaches, the inability to understand the knowledge the teachers are trying so hard to impart, the overflow of assignments. I’ve endured the same things you have.
Many of us are going through a tough time in our lives, causing us tremendous stress. Having multiple arguments is the last thing we want when we’re all trapped under the same roof, but it is what many of us have been going through during this entire pandemic.
Our parents’ continual screaming and non-stop badgering to “study like your life depends on it!” pollutes the environment at home with unbearable toxicity and more pressure.
But we fail to see how this pandemic has also affected our parents, both mentally and financially. With a little understanding on both sides, this impasse can be resolved.
Parents need to acknowledge that their teenagers are able to feel such complex emotions, and we need to understand that our parents are facing the brunt of the economic downturn, enduring much stress as they struggle to provide for our families.
We must realise we are unable to go anywhere for the time being, and we are forced to live together and bond with each other, for Covid isn’t ready to leave just yet.
As a 2020 SPM candidate, I personally do not see the relevance of having the exam dates deferred. You might disagree, but please take a moment to be impartial and have an open mind.
Countless lives have been affected by this pandemic, including the SPM candidates’. We all thought we were going to lead normal lives and be in college by the beginning of 2021, but sadly that isn’t happening.
Rather than waste away at home, wouldn’t you rather change your fate and move on with your lives? It is not too late to do the sensible thing and go along with the exam as scheduled on 22 February.
Waiting is just going to make the coronavirus stronger, more resilient. Haven’t we learned from our mistakes?
The first time we altered the dates, the number of cases soared. The second time we altered the dates and hoped for the best, it spiked even more. If we keep changing the dates and ignoring the truth, we will never sit for our exams, and this will end up costing us our future.
Do you want to be part of the crowd that goes with the flow without considering the consequences of your actions? Signing a petition to defer the exam dates might not seem like a big thing, but what you don’t realise is that the price of this small action could be your future.
Being able to go to school without getting infected isn’t impossible. My father is a doctor, exposed to patients every day. Being able to see this first-hand and to learn that there are ways for him to stay safe amid the sea of patients is something I am thankful for.
As soon as we set foot in our homes, we should take a shower and sanitise our clothes. While having your shower, consider adding neem leaves into a bucket of water and use that. It might sound insane, but what’s there to lose. It doesn’t hurt either to gargle with salt water.
The opening of schools for those in Form Five was the right move, as we are finally being taught the right way. I’ve come to accept that nothing will change unless we change the way we look at 22 February – as a golden opportunity rather than a mistake.
Over to my friend:
My name is Teresa, and I’m a friend of Surekha’s, and I happen to be an SPM candidate as well. I strongly disagree with the postponement of the exam dates because an SPM qualification is my ticket to freedom to study abroad, something I have always dreamed of.
That said, I also understand the struggles faced by my peers. Mental health is important, and I’m not saying we should neglect it, but let’s be realistic: is the answer to our problems altering the exam dates? There are many perspectives on this issue, but there is no need to avoid the exams just because we feel insecure about our intelligence.
It has been delayed long enough: from October to January, and then to February – and after this, to March and April? Where does it stop? What good does it do? Just think about it, the faster we get it done, the less stressful it is.
More than most people, as a home-schooled pupil, I understand the struggle of online schooling and not being able to understand most of the syllabus.
There are many other things we could do to solve this problem, but postponing the exam dates isn’t the answer.
What I suggest is that the grading of papers should be more lenient, as we’ve already been through so much and just want to be out of high school now. The Ministry of Education should have online seminars on the techniques used to answer questions and the key points of a certain topic.
Everyone should follow the standard Covid precautions and work towards reducing the number of cases.
Lastly, we both sincerely hope that Form Five students will work towards sitting for the SPM exams instead of coming up with excuses to run from it.
Surekha SK is an aspiring journalist who previously took part in an Aliran new writers workshop