Krishna Kothiya: Reflecting on Her Years of Education in India

As a child, senior Krishna Kothiya was quite reckless, but it wasn’t exactly her fault.  

She went to a bad school where students didn’t get in trouble and teachers didn’t care, this, along with the financial struggles at home cause Kothiya to quickly fall behind in her academics.  

For second and third grade, Kothiya’s parents sent her to India to live with her grandparents to attend school, hoping that this time would allow her to be directed in the right path.  

Class instructions in India were different than what she was used to in the states. At her school, Swaminarayan Dham International School, located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, education was the accumulation of religion, conformity, and competition for success. These factors trained the students to be highly intelligent and competitive since they are required to memorize large amounts of facts and information compared to their peers in America whose’ curriculum isn’t as rigorous.   

Since Kothiya’s family follows a subsect of Hinduism with different ideals and practices, she was required to memorize the Bhagwan Swaminarayan Maharaj Prashna, a list of 200 questions that encompasses the teachings of the religion, in school. She excelled in teaching the teachings to others, so she spent most of her time giving speeches at temples and community centers. Over the weekends, Kothiya would visit different temples to discuss the 200 questions on stage with the saints in front of a crowd of people. Religion was heavily focused on and off campus; its purpose was to establish a great understanding of their community, morals, and spirituality.  

“You can say that this got me fame in the place. In school I got a lot of recognition for the religious aspects of things,” Kothiya said.  

Even though her attendance at the temple was a must in her everyday routine, Kothiya loved spending time with people in her community and wishes that the close community dynamic was more present in the states.   

During school hours, it was required that every student followed the uniform guidelines, this meant that students obediently followed the appropriate uniform dress codes and mimicked the same hair lengths and styles. It was designed this way so that every student was considered equal and possess the same opportunities.  

The rigorous academic system required Kothiya to spend more time studying and challenging herself to maintain a good school record to keep up with the academic expectations. Her fear of falling behind her peers pushed her to do extra hours of studying. With her new competitive mindset, it would become very useful during her high school years of the IB program.  

“I definitely carried the principles I learned in India to my academics now in the IB program. I can see that there are a lot of similarities in both of communities since there is a lot of competition,” Kothiya said. “I think [the competition is] why I love the program so much…like in India I did really well in my art classes, and I like that feeling of being number one in the class. You want that type of recognition, so it makes you perform better.” 

The principles that Kothiya picked up during her stay in India changed how she viewed the American education system when she returned to the states.  

“I think in our country, American students are told to mature and become independent too early, which can negatively impact their ability to focus on getting a good education for their future careers,’ Kothiya said. She believes that in her culture, Indian parents have already recognized that they must motivate their kids to focus on graduating before rushing to be financially independent and sustain themselves at a young age.  

Kothiya also added that parents play a major role in the youth’s academic performance.  

“I feel like parents are a really big part of how much focus you put on education. When I was with my grandparents in India, they were never strict with my grades since my school encouraged me to perform better…however when I came back to Miami, [my school] didn’t encourage me to do better…my parents knew that I wouldn’t perform as well as I did in India because of the less rigorous curriculums here, so they were the ones who encouraged me”