In last two months, more than 50 students have reportedly committed suicide across Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh said a report by the NDTV. The Child Rights Activists have been tracking these cases. Most cases link to students cracking up under immense pressure to perform.
Andhra Pradesh government reprimanded intermediate colleges over the increase in suicides of students and asked them to stop harassing students and follow self-regulation. Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu and HRD Minister Ganta Srinivas Rao held a closed-door meeting with the management of corporate colleges in the state.
Unsurmountable loss to life
Samyuktha had scored 95% in her class 12 exams and joined a leading coaching institute in Hyderabad. She joined the institute three months ago to clear the national medical entrance examination. She wanted to be a doctor. On Monday, she killed herself by leaving a note behind that spoke about her inability to cope with her studies.
Samyuktha’s father, a driver, recalls how she would, talk about her inability to focus after enrolling in the coaching institute despite her high scores. “I would only advise the other parents to understand what your children are going through before putting them in these colleges,” he said.
Another case is that of Saritha’s. On Monday, after being rebuked by her uncle and other family members for her poor performance in mathematics, Saritha consumed pesticides in the morning. Later, in the school, Saritha collapsed in her classroom. She was then taken to a Health Centre in Avanigadda, where she was declared brought dead.
Similar to it, unable to tolerate the jibes of his teachers, another 17-year-old student ended his life by jumping off the building. There have been many instances where teachers told the students that they would not make the required grade.
Bleak state of affairs
The junior colleges, in Telugu states, are factories for producing medical and engineering students. Children here are mostly treated like study machines, forced to mug up and write complete answers word for word. Rote learning is practised in these colleges, and they have only one goal – to make sure every student gets through engineering or medical colleges. Additionally, students are also discriminated by the marks they receive. Poor academic performance would result in eventual demotion.
Corporal punishment is rampant inside these institutions. Students even get thrashed for turning his head away from the class and looking out of a window. Controlling each second of the student’s life is a norm in these institutes.
Guidelines issued by the government
The CM said he wouldn’t tolerate if corporate education system makes student robots and ordered private colleges to follow self-regulation. CM Naidu said he would hold a review meeting with the committee once in a month and with the representative of these colleges once in every three months. HRD Minister Ganta Srinivas Rao meanwhile has warned corporate colleges of criminal action. He has called for strict obedience to all the rules and regulations set by the Board of Intermediate studies.
From October 20, inspections will be conducted across all the corporate colleges and hostels. All 158 hostels of corporate colleges running without permission will be shut down. Legal action will also be taken if stipulated measures are not taken within three months.
New rules have been introduced according to which, in both the states, students cannot be made to attend classes for more than eight hours. It also explicitly bans teachers from verbal or physical assaulting students. It also requires them to keep trained councillors at hand to guide students.
Other similar cases
According to a report by Hindustan Times, Andhra and Telangana are not alone where pressure-cooker like coaching institutes have mushroomed over the last few years. In the coaching hub of Kota in Rajasthan, where 1.75 lakh students go every year dreaming of clearing engineering and medical entrance examinations, the hostel association has installed ‘suicide-proof’ fans in student’s rooms, in a short-sighted as well as bizarre move to address the problem without delving into the cause.
The 2016 National Crime Record Bureau said, at least 17 students committed suicide in Kota due to the fear of failing. Owing to the limited seats in the state-run institutes, for every student who gets through, there are thousands of those who don’t get a seat in the government colleges. A report by the Ashok Mishra committee, submitted to the HRD ministry in November 2015 also proposed setting up of a strict regulatory mechanism. Since the regulation of secondary education is a state subject, the onus of evolving such a mechanism also falls on the states.
The Logical Indian take
Surely, there are several private universities in the country now, but the incredibly high tuition fee is prohibitive of many students. The availability of seats keeps shrinking as the student moves higher, from the primary to the secondary level to higher education. The fear of not being able to cope with the pressure in class, letting parents down and peer pressure as well, makes them often take such a drastic step as suicide.
The inability to procure admission in an engineering college should not be viewed as worth ending one’s life for. National Employability Report 2016 by Aspiring Minds says that over 80% of the engineers in India are unemployable. The curriculum is outdated and is focused towards rote learning. The education is solely focused on a competitive job market. The task of the authorities should be to convince the students that education is part of larger process of acquiring knowledge.
The Logical Indian community urges the government to take strict actions against the corporate colleges. It also urges the parents to not put immense pressure on the students to keep on performing well consistently.
Students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have an impressive track record when it comes to cracking entrance exams to premier institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology. Somewhere down the line, experts suggest, this remarkable performance might have ended up putting more pressure on others.