KATHMANDU: School is a primary setting where leadership is fostered. Quality leadership is garnered if opportunities are given
to all students regardless of academic criteria. In reality, teachers unknow-ingly discriminate among students by their academic performance and deprive them of opportunities.
In schools, fundamentally all the essential skills are taught, with leadership being one that students are expected to obtain. The prime time to foster leadership is when children and youths are of school going age.
During interactions on leadership with many students and faculty members, few things keep coming up. The first one is the discriminatory tendency towards students. Teachers and tutors tend to favour students who outstand academically and those who do not fare well, are looked down upon. This basically means that leadership is marked by a student’s academic excellence.
Opportunity is limited to the students of higher academic strata and is based on their previous performances. This means that a single student is always allowed or directed to host school programmes. This practice is heavily prevalent from early school days which means only ‘good’ students get such leadership opportunities during their formative years. Those who have excelled in leadership within school settings seem to have greater desire to succeed in academic discipline as well. The students who display good leadership traits also long to set examples in academic discipline.
The second issue is that the definition of leadership is mostly narrowed down to communication. Communication and oratory skills are sought after by the teachers as the most important leadership trait. Interestingly students with good academic grades are usually equipped with sound communication and oratory skills. The discriminatory practice takes its toll on the psychological state of academically poorer students who start to believe that they are incapable of competing.
I was called by a college a year back to conduct training on leadership for students. After my second visit, I realised that the college management had chosen only the best and most articulate students for the training. In my subsequent trainings, even though other students participated, the students who had attended the sessions earlier were the only ones who participated meaningfully.
If discrimination from teachers is kept in check, leadership in schools would paint a very different picture. Every student, irrespective
of academic proficiency, would have developed quality leadership skills.
(The author is the MD, trainer and consultant of Aadhar Development Pvt Ltd. He can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org)