Telangana: Faulty Board Results Triggered 13 Student Suicides This Week. It's Time We Pay Attention
Amidst Lok Sabha elections, a piece of important news has missed media’s attention. On 21 April 2019, Gulf News reported that the state of Telangana has witnessed 13 student suicides after the intermediate first and second-year results were announced. Many students and parents are seen protesting and claiming faulty valuation by the Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education.
Many students who had scored considerably well in their previous examinations have scored zero in certain subjects in their board examinations. This has given rise to a series of speculations and has reinforced parents and students’ doubt over the efficiency of the Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education. Gulf News mentions in its report an incident where a girl from Mancherial district who was initially failed, was later rewarded 99 out of 100 after re-evaluation.
Gulf News also reports how a girl who had emerged topper in her first-year examinations, demanded the Board of Intermediate officials verify her marks, and she secured 99 marks and emerged as a topper again, post verification. Incidents of faulty evaluation have elicited severe criticism.
Not all students chose to challenge the board and verify their marks. Some chose to give in to the pressure and end their lives. One of them is 17-year-old Dharma Ram, who jumped out of the apartment building that he stayed in with his family, as soon as he learnt that he had failed in the examination. He was rushed to the hospital, but couldn’t be saved. One more 17-year-old girl in Jagtiyal district, named V. Shivani ended her life by hanging herself while her family members were asleep, after learning that she had failed in three subjects.
This is not the first time students are ending their lives after the announcement of board results, but the number this time has significantly shot up and what is more unfortunate is that it is because of the irresponsibility of somebody else that youngsters are resorting to extreme options like suicide. These incidents also reveal to us the intense pressure that these young shoulders have been bearing at an age as early as 17.
The Pressure on students
Do these repeatedly occurring events speak to us about our parenting styles or voids in our education systems? Dr Kannan Gireesh, Founder & CEO of Live Life Education, who has been extensively working on preventing student suicides in India, spoke to The Logical Indian and said: “In Telangana, there is an odd phenomenon of subjecting kids to intense academic tutoring. Children are stuffed in shopping-complex kind buildings and bombarded with classes all day and repeated tests as if they are robots. We need to acknowledge the fact that all students have different learning formats and thereby you cannot expect the same output from all students. One cannot judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. Tutorials are very different from schools. They scare kids and push them to their extremes as they make them believe that they either make it into IIT or their life is doomed. It is because of this pressure that they crack up. Of course, some students thrive under pressure, but some students are kinesthetic and sports loving. Parenting is also at fault because with this intense academic pressure, there hardly is time for parenting. I’m not saying this environment is completely devilish. Schools should identify students who thrive in an environment like this and subject only them to this environment instead of making a blanket assumption that all kids will learn better under pressure. Nuclear families are also to be blamed for deteriorating mental health of students’.”
Dr Gireesh also shared with us the signs in children that parents should look out for, to prevent their children from resorting to self-harm or suicide: “1. Loneliness, 2. Lack of interest in pleasurable activities, 3. Sustained dull mood irrespective of the environment, 4. Increased tiredness, 5. Children talking about self-harm or ending lives” If parents or teachers or adults find these signs in students around them, they should be alarmed. Dr Gireesh also shares with us what parents/adults should do once they identify these signs, “Do not stigmatise their problems and do not over advise at any cost. Talk to them and assure them that you are with them, irrespective of everything. Seek professional help,” suggests Dr Gireesh.
The Logical Indian Take
The blunder of Telangana State Intermediate Board of Education (TSBIE) cannot be considered a matter of negligence. It is a criminal offence. There is a combination of factors behind the suicides, the major one being the fact that students ended their lives because the board didn’t do justice to its job. There are reports coming of students still trying to commit suicides. The Logical Indian requests the students who are agonised by the results to not take such extreme steps and seek help. It is time for parents and teachers to wake up and demand for a better education system for their wards. Politicians and school boards have abandoned us when it comes to improving the education system and decreasing the pressure on students.