Concerned over the rising number of students committing suicides, the Kota district administration and the city’s coaching institutes have begun taking corrective measures in an attempt to de-stress the students and instil positivity in them.
The district administration has chalked out a strategy to reduce the pressure that students undergo, issuing several guidelines to coaching institutes including starting weekly offs for students, augmenting the number of counsellors, providing fees refund, facilitating recreational activities and other measures.
More than 1.25 lakh students head to coaching institutes in Kota every year with dreams of cracking the highly competitive entrance exams. The rigorous study schedule, high-pressure environment, competitive exams and stress of living alone take a toll on many students, pushing some of them to commit suicide.
With two more students taking the extreme step this week, a total of 19 have committed suicide in Kota this year. “Primarily, increasing counselling of students and parents, developing recreational activities, fees refund and other measures are part of the guidelines,” Kota district collector Dr Ravi Kumar Surpur said, adding the district administration has asked institutes to conduct screening tests from the next academic session.
Dr Surpur called for the closed ‘Hope Society’ helpline centre to restart within two days. Psychiatrist Dr ML Aggarwal, who was behind the start of a similar helpline in 2010, said the district administration had sought budget proposals for the restart of ‘Hope Society’, which they have submitted to the administration. He said around seven counsellors are likely to be appointed at the centre. He also claimed the helpline had saved the lives of over 4,400 people, including several students in the last four years, before it was closed down.
Coaching institutes observed Saturday as ‘Fun Day’, where they encouraged coaching students to relieve their stress via recreational activities. Resonance Institute managing director RK Verma said students also participated in drawing and painting activities to allow them to express themselves, adding that his institute is also undertaking the academic and psychological counselling. Pramod Maheshwari from Career Point Institute said his coaching centre is counselling students on multiple career options. “Students are being told that success or failure in competitive examinations is not end of the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, Allen Career Institute put up billboards at over two dozen places in Kota, replacing pictures of toppers with the tagline ‘happiness’ and the faces of small children. Kota has about 40 big coaching centres with a thriving Rs 2,000 crore industry, but only around 25% make it to premier engineering or medical schools.