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Friday, August 22, 2014

247 - Value education to de-stress IIT-Kharagpur undergraduates - TNN

TNN | Aug 20, 2014, 12.04AM IST

KOLKATA: From the new academic session, that has just taken off, value education is making an entry into the curriculum of undergraduate students of IIT-Kharagpur.

An all new Vivekananda Center of Excellence is starting at IIT-Kharagpur, funded completely by the Centre, to help students balance the extreme stress conditions that they have to weather for five years of their undergrad programme. Yoga, meditation, simple calming techniques, year-long inspirational workshops and lectures about balanced leadership will form the backbone of the value education content at the Center.

While the institute is in the process of designing the curriculum, the underlying refrain is to find out an effective way of dealing with depression and suicidal tendencies that have been haunting the oldest and biggest IIT campus in the chain for the past six years.

Over this period, 25 students have committed suicide in this institute for not being able to live up to their mirror image that consists of a complex medley of grade points, placements, intense workload and a complete emotional disconnect with their immediate environment. Professors have no choice but to give attention to the top 10-15% brilliant boys and girls who ask the most questions out of their own urge to excel. The next 55%, somehow, manage to keep their grades, while the bottom 30% continue to slip till they either start failing their grades or drop out. At one point, the institute had the ideal ratio of one teacher per 10 students, which has fallen to 25 students now, thanks to the 400 vacant teaching posts that the institute hasn't been able to fill up in the last one decade. At the moment, at least 300 students are being counselled in the institute's counselling centre but that is not enough and hence the Vivekananda Center.

"The idea is not to churn out just first-class engineers. That in any case we are being able to do. In the midst of this competition, several students lose their basic human qualities. Once that happens, stress and depression get an easy walkover. We hope that the new centre will help the students overcome this crisis," said IIT-Kgp director P P Chakraborty.

It's coming up at the centre of a natural lake inside the campus, opposite the gymkhana. The Union ministry of human resources development has granted Rs 15 crore to IIT-Kgp for the centre.