In some countries young people have little leisure time and are under a lot of pressure to work hard in their studies. What do you think are the causes of this? What solutions can you suggest?

Free time is in short supply for children these days, leading to the rise of anxiety, stress and depression among them. Two main causes of this situation are ever increasing parental pressure stemming from increased emphasis on schooling and severe competition for university places.

Most parents expect their children to emerge highly successful in their academic pursuits and go on to have a successful career. This means that they exert pressure on their younger ones to spend the better part of the day reading for school. Some even go further and arrange for private lessons for their children and thus forcing them to spend another two or three hours in private study centres after school. Consequently, their leisure time is curtailed, putting them under considerable pressure.

The second cause relates to the fiercely competitive higher education sector. Each year, the number of candidates seeking admission to university courses is twice or thrice as many as the places available. As a result, only students with impressive grades succeed in obtaining a place. This explains the pressure on the teenagers as they ought to work longer hours to gain entry to the portals of further education.

The most obvious solution to this problem is for schools to educate parents about the ill effects of undue pressure on children. They should be made aware of the negative consequences it can have on their mental health. Parental counselling can include discussion of ways in which they can help their child to lead a more balanced life with an adequate amount of leisure time.

It would also be a good idea for governments to redress the problem of shortage of university places by expanding universities or by building new ones and thus giving teenagers some of their precious free time back.

To conclude, parents would do well to remember that by offering encouragement in the form of assistance with school work and discussion of different ideas and concepts, they can more easily achieve the objective of sparking inspiration in their children to scale newer avenues of academic success.