Coaching centre pulled up over govt order breach as student dies by suicide in Kota
On Monday, the NEET student from West Bengal, who was preparing for admission in undergraduate medical courses, died by suicide at his rented accommodation
The Kota district administration has pulled up a coaching centre and sought an explanation, in three days, over its failure to inform authorities that the 20-year-old National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) aspirant, who died by suicide on Monday, was “severely depressed” and was undergoing counselling provided by the institute.
In a notice to Motion Coaching Institute on Tuesday evening, Kota collector Mahaveer Prasad Meena said the educational centre had violated the Rajasthan government’s recent order that directed institutes to inform the administration about students suffering from severe depression, in order to allow authorities to take suitable measures and keep a check on rising suicides – a cause of concern in the coaching hub this year.
As per police records, 26 students, who were preparing for various competitive exams, died by suicide this year – the highest since 2015.
In its notice to the institute, the district collector said: “We found that the institute was aware that the student was severely depressed even before his counseling session on November 12. The district administration could not arrange any advanced treatment or therapy sessions by a professional psychiatrist from the government hospital as you (the Motion authority) did not inform us about the student’s condition.”
It added: “We found that the student had been taking the counseling session for a long time at your institute because of his severe depression issue. Yet, the administration could not consult his parents because you didn’t report to us.”
Meena alleged the institute displayed “sheer negligence in boosting the morale of the student and also non-compliance of government orders”. “Therefore, submit your clarification on the matter within three days,” she said.
HT reached out to the institute for a comment but did not get one immediately.
On Monday, the NEET student from West Bengal, who was preparing for admission in undergraduate medical courses, died by suicide at his rented accommodation at Waqf Nagar in Dadabari area, where he was staying since July last year. No suicide note was recovered from the spot, police said.
A senior police officer said an investigation revealed that the student’s parents were not informed about his counseling at the institute. “After speaking to the deceased’s parents, police learnt that they were also not informed about his counseling which was going on for over a month. Despite the guidelines, the coaching centre did not inform the district administration that the student barely attended classes in the last one month,” the officer said, seeking anonymity.
According to police data, 15 students died by suicide in Kota in 2022, 18 in 2019, 20 in 2018, seven in 2017, 17 in 2016, and 18 in 2015. No suicide took place in 2020 and 2021.
Considering a rapid surge in such cases, the Rajasthan government on September 28 announced a series of measures to prevent the deaths, such as a mandatory screening test, the alphabetical sorting of students into sections instead of a ranking-based one, and the admission of students who are in Class IX or higher.
The guidelines also recommended mandatory training for teachers, institute managers, other staff, and the wardens of the hostels and paying guest accommodations to enable them assess behavioural changes of students and take further preventive measures.
The government warned of legal action against faculty of coaching institutes if they violated any of the regulations. Though no details of the legal actions were mentioned in the guidelines, it said, “Such violation that may severely affect the students’ mental health will be considered as a criminal act and the district administration will take necessary legal action against it.”
On October 20 and November 8, Meena held meetings with owners and directors of coaching institutes in Kota and instructed them to inform the administration about students suffering from severe depression. This will allow authorities to take care of the matter and refer the student to any psychiatrist at a government hospital, Meena said.
On August 18, the district administration had ordered all hostels and paying guest (PG) accommodations to install spring-loaded fans in rooms “to provide students mental support and security”.
Kota is the centre of India’s test-prep business, estimated to be worth ₹10,000 crore annually, according to officials in the district administration. Students from around the country arrive here in huge numbers after completing Class X, and register in residential test-prep institutes. They also enroll in schools, most of which are largely for purposes of certification.
Students attend classes only in the test-prep institutes, which prepare them for their Class XII examination, but more importantly, entrance examinations such as NEET and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). Some students find the grind stressful, especially because they are away from their families.
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