Study Centers Or Suicide Centers?

Maheshwer Peri

December 20th, 2015

“On Wednesday at around 12.30 pm the college dean scolded Hrithvik in front of all students and warned him that he will be expelled if he did not improve. Around 2 pm he went to his room while his friends were attending classes. During tea break, his friends went in search of him but did not find him in his room. “He was found hanging in another room”. Report in Deccan Chronicle dated 18th December 2015

This is not the first suicide nor would be the last one. In fact, it is one of the spate of suicides at Narayana Group of Institutions, owned and operated by a minister in the Andhra Pradesh Cabinet. Each institution is run like a military dispensation, but the members are all minors. Every minor here is working to fulfil their parents unfulfilled aspirations, in conditions that will break every law meant for even Juvenile homes? Corporal punishment is par for the course. These prisons are created to exploit the aspiration of most Indians to be a part of IITs. They admit children as young as 12 into an environment that in many cases is like a prison. “When I entered, I saw these huge grills around the building covering every exit point and felt that it was a huge boxed unit. There were locks in place and watchmen at each point”, writes in a parent.

They boast of the top ranks in the JEE exam and a lot many students getting into IITs, but that is just a small part of the truth. What they don’t tell you is that 98% of their own students fail to get into any if these hallowed institutions. The numbers on their website say it all – 300,000 students, 12000 faculty, 200 schools, 400 colleges, 500 centres, 13 states. I wish they can also add two more crucial numbers – the proportion of students getting into IITs and the number of suicides committed by young children, unable to cope with their pressure and rigour. A simple google search yielded multiple results that will shake your confidence in the system. These coaching institutions are unregulated by any higher education authority with the only regulator being municipal laws to be administered by the owner Mr.P.Narayana, who is the Minister in charge of Municipal Administration & Urban Development, Urban Planning, Government Of Andhra Pradesh. Such is irony.

“I went to see the rooms and there was a message on the walls which was an appeal for help from a former student” says the parent. “The students were packed in rooms and were seated everywhere including the corridors. There were small kids from rural areas who had a look of resignation on their faces”.

The infrastructure needed to run any school or college doesn’t apply to the Narayana Group. Space per Class rooms, hostel rooms, open spaces, play grounds, Facilities etc. are mostly flouted. But then, other institutions do not boast of their promoter being a powerful cabinet minister for Municipal administration, that the very ministry that is supposed to enforce these rules. “My son did not use the bathroom at all for the three days he was there as there was no running water”, says the mother who pulled her son out within three days after admission. “Tests are frequent and some kids are beaten and threatened because they didn’t perform well”.

The hype is too much. Even exceptionally intelligent kids fail at JEE after joining the institute because of the rigorous and myopic way of teaching. However, information rarely comes out in the open. All that is talked of is those who cracked JEE and the 99% who failed are rarely talked about. “My friend put her son in Narayana Bangalore as a day scholar. She says her time was spent in listening to how bad her kid was and eventually he failed in French of all the things. He joined for an integrated course”, says the parent.

“To the principal’s credit, he dissuaded us and gave enough hints about the rigour and hardships, but we were blinded. When we opted out, he said that it would reflect badly on him so I gave it in writing that my son got admission in a different college.
I later went to collect the receipts and complete the withdrawal process, and overheard a student not wanting to stay. He was giving hints to his mother but I felt that they were all resigned to the fact that he had to stay”.

The more the parents failed, the greater the pressure on the child. The teachers and principals are judged on success rates and hence greater pressure on the child. This must be the only place where children work to help adults succeed, and at times they die at the altar of adult aspirations.

RIP Hrithvik. You have enough company above with your schoolmates.

How I wish I can say – RIP Narayana Group of Institutions.

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