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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

As suicides rise, Kota institutes asked to introduce screening test - Hindustan Times

  • Aabshar Quazi, Hindustan Times, KotaUpdated: Dec 24, 2015 11:35 IST

More than 1,00,000 teenagers head to coaching institutes in Kota every year with the dream of cracking IIT or medical exams. (AH Zaidi/HT file photo)

Students seeking admission to coaching institutes in Rajasthan’s Kota city will have to appear for a screening test from the next academic session, a move spurred by growing incidents of suicides by youngsters allegedly due to performance pressure.

At least 56 students studying in different institutes in the city – about 250 km from capital Jaipur – have committed suicide in the last five years, most of them attributed to the fear of failure.

Official sources said on Wednesday that the norm was introduced by Kota district collector Ravi Kumar Surpur to give parents a fair assessment of their wards’ chances of cracking the highly competitive engineering and medical entrance exams.

The district collector has instructed all institutes to have a screening test for the 2016-17 academic year with common counselling facility for parents. The institutes have three to four months to prepare the module for the test in consultation with the district administration, the sources added.

The quiet southern Rajasthan town attracted just over 10,000 students till early 2000 in seven major institutes but the last few years had seen a major transformation with about 1.25 lakh students taking admission in about 40 institutes this year.

However, just one-fourth of them manage to get admission in professional colleges, leading to high stress levels in a majority of them who come from middle or low income group families.
As the institutes started providing better facilities, their charges also rose with annual fees doubling in the last seven years, putting additional pressure on students.

Gopal Saini, a daily wager turned shopkeeper in Alwar, had borrowed heavily from friends and relatives to support his 17-year-old son Manish’s dream to become a doctor. Manish cracked the examination and got admission into the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) this year.

But there are many like Tara Chand, enrolled in Allen Career Institute, who apparently was not able to cope with the rigour and reportedly committed suicide earlier this year.

“I still don’t know what drove him to commit suicide,” said his father Sohanlal Sirvi, a farmer who took out all his savings to pay for his son’s annual fee of over Rs one lakh.

The reasons for committing suicide are many, says Yaadram Faasal, Kota’s additional superintendant of police, with “failure of the students to meet high expectations of parents” being the most common. Also, living alone away from their families in a rigorous study cycle and high pressure environment also push them to take the extreme step.

An official of the Kota administration said the new system will give parents a chance to opt out and choose an alternate career option for their ward.

Allen Career Institute, Kota, Director, Naveen Maheshwari agreed, saying that the guidelines make screening test mandatory but not rejection of the students.

Students welcomed the move saying there was no harm in filtering students at the time of admissions through screening test since it will prevent below average and undeserving students from falling prey to the study stress of coaching.

“It is good that screening test does not result in rejection as every student should get equal opportunity to improve their educational level,” said Tejaswin Jeengar, a student from Haryana.