With examinations round the corner, anxious and stressed out students in Karnataka have found a "saviour" in a special helpline to guide them overcome exam phobia.
The helpline has been deluged with calls since it was launched Feb 18. Over 600 calls were made in the first three days by students preparing for the pre-university (Class 12) exams beginning March 13.
The initiative for the helpline was taken by the state's Pre-University Department. Getting high marks is a must in these examinations to secure admission to chosen degree courses in good colleges.
"We have already received over 600 calls from across Karnataka. We are happy that we have been able to counsel the students, especially when they are on the threshold of appearing for the pre-university exams," counsellor Bharati Singh told IANS.
"Most of the calls concern exam-related phobia," Singh added.
The helpline service, launched by Primary and Secondary Education Minister Visveshwara Hedge Kageri, has two dedicated telephone numbers - 080-23366778/23366779 - which are open between 3 p.m. and 4.30 p.m.
The two counsellors have been getting calls from students from across the state - Bangalore city to Gulbarga, over 600 km away in north Karntaka.
"Calls have come from several districts like Hassan, Bangalore Rural, Mysore, Shimoga and Chamarajnagar from students desperate to get quick solutions to their problems," the counsellors said.
"The very idea of starting the helpline service is to provide a platform for the students' community who generally go through harrowing time during the exams," Pre-University Department Commissioner S.G. Hedge said.
"Students are under tremendous pressure to perform their best during the exam time. But unfortunately, most of the time they have nobody to help them deal with their problems," he said.
"Our counsellors listen to the problems of the callers and give them proper guidance," added Hedge.
It is not mandatory for callers to reveal their identity to access help.
"Most of the callers complain about having exam-phobia. Others are stressed out and feel pressured to perform better in the exams. These are common issues, which with adequate counselling and help from family and friends can be sorted out easily," said counsellor Singh.
Even worried parents are calling up.
"Like students, parents too are very concerned about their children and their exam preparedness. We give them tips on how to remain stress- free and help their children prepare so as to perform well in the exams," said Singh.
The second year pre-university examinations will commence March 13 and end March 26. They will be held in 856 centres across the state. A total of 620,119 students will take the examinations. Of them 310,584 belong to the arts stream, 172,676 to the science stream and 136,859 are in commerce.
While the authorities have planned to end the helpline service March 12, a day ahead of the beginning of the examinations, they are having second thoughts.
If the deluge of calls continues, they could keep the helpline open till the end of the examinations.
"We might extend the helpline service further, depending on the response," said Hedge.