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Monday, June 20, 2016

Shatrughan Sinha releases book on student suicides in Bihar - INDIAN EXPRESS


"The issue must be debated in society in order to protect precious lives of our students who are under excessive mental stress," said the senior BJP leader.

By: PTI | Patna | Updated: June 19, 2016 8:24 am


Bollywood star and BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha along with Bihar’s education minister Ashok Choudhary and Super-30 founder Anand Kumar releasing a book ‘Suicide’ written by journalist Sanjay Kumar Sinha in Patna on June 18. (Source: PTI)

Expressing grave concern over rise in incidents of suicide due to exam failure and competitions, senior BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha on June 18 suggested the need for a serious discussion on how to relieve students of excessive mental stress.

Sinha was speaking at a function on the occasion of the release of a book ‘Suicide? There is always a tomorrow’ by senior journalist Sanjay Sinha.

“The issue must be debated in society in order to protect precious lives of our students who are under excessive mental stress,” he said, adding that it was not only surprising but heart-rending to know that failure in examinations and competition accounted for about two per cent of total suicides in India in 2014.

Referring to the book which talks about plan B or C in the event of failure of one’s cherished dream, the BJP MP said people especially youths must have their plan B or C ready.

“Fight it out. This is the art we have to teach our children,” he said.

Bihar Education Minister Ashok Choudhary suggested that the book should be published in Hindi so that it can be read by the masses.

“The book will certainly work as mirror for parents,” he said.
Anand Kumar, founder of ‘Super 30’ whose 28 out of 30 students made it to IIT this year, said that the book intends to bring positive thoughts. He said that it will prove to be handy for teachers and policy makers and those who have commercialised educational institutions.

Sanjay Sinha, the author, said the book dealt with a very sensitive subject that has gripped the society and younger generation.

As per National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data, a total of 2,403 suicides due to failure in competition and examination was recorded in 2014. Bihar accounted for 82 untimely deaths of students in that year, he said.

Similarly, Kota, the coaching hub of India, witnessed 25 suicides in past 5 years on this count, he added.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Shadow Education - Indian Express



The coaching industry wreaks an enormous social toll. What must be the policy response?

Written by Yugank Goyal | Updated: June 18, 2016 12:13 am

The $ 45-million dollar coaching industry in Kota has led to the suicide of 57 young people in the last five years — seven students just this year. (Source: Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal/ File)

There’s little scholarly research on the subject even when, according to the National Sample Survey Organisation, around 7.1 crore Indian children attend some form of private coaching and 10 to 11 per cent of a family’s budget is consumed by such tuitions. The private coaching industry is bigger than $ 40 billion. This is about the state GDP of Odisha.

Kota is the poster-child of this huge yet shadow education system. The $ 45-million dollar coaching industry in the city has led to the suicide of 57 young people in the last five years — seven students just this year.

Research suggests coaching in a Kota centre could well begin when the child is 13 years old. She would never attend a regular school with playgrounds or read poems in a class. She will only undertake IIT/medical college preparation classes. The creativity is killed before it blooms. The two-year cost (including tuition and living expenses) for parents could be around Rs 6 lakh — India’s average per capita annual income is about Rs 86,000. Acceptance rates as low as 0.005 per cent (for IITs) leaves the unsuccessful students dejected and guilt-ridden — an enormous psychological and emotional cost.

Is there a benefit which justifies this cost? Does coaching add value to human capital, or is it merely a signalling device? If it adds value then the governments must encourage them. But if it’s the latter, alternative means of signalling must be evolved given the horrendous social cost.

There is some evidence — Pratham conducted a two-year randomised control trial — that private tutoring in school (grade 3 or 4) did benefit students in mastering basic skills. But there is no systematic evidence which shows that coaching for entrance examinations to colleges leads to any significant increase in productivity. In India, due to a high number of applicants, entrance examinations brutally cast aside many.
If the coaching classes indeed contributed to human capital, then we should observe once-coached IIT graduates excelling in their career significantly more than their
un-coached counterparts (controlling for other things). There is no evidence to show this. Although there is no evidence to show the contrary either, it is not difficult to imagine the need of coaching merely as signalling. 

A World Bank publication (Dang and Rogers, 2008) theoretically explains that coaching institutions are not likely to add value to human capital. In fact, an increase in signalling efforts comes at the cost of human capital — in Kota, formal education for the IIT/medical college aspirant is offered in dummy schools which lack well-rounded education. Entrance tests measure merely signalling value and therefore, coaching is not likely to increase students’ human capital any more than self-practice does.

What must be the policy response? Countries have varying responses to private coaching: Ban (in Korea, Myanmar, Cambodia), regulate (in Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Ukraine), ignore (in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, UK, Canada) or encourage (in Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania). Banning has been unsuccessful either due to weak implementation (Myanmar, Cambodia) or because of powerful interest groups (Korea). Banning doesn’t make sense in India too. Regulation could be useful. But India has weak enforcement infrastructure and a highly inelastic demand for coaching.

Therefore, alternative signalling mechanisms must be explored. Many elite universities around the world often select students on the basis of their overall intelligence and performance in schools. For many, exams act as a process to eliminate non-serious applicants, but don’t determine their selection. Selection happens through a rigorous process of considering several factors — grades, recommendations, interviews, motivation, extra-curricular activities. This means students must attend regular schools engaging with history, poetry, mathematics, debating and football. In such alternative systems, there is little that coaching institutions can do to terminate creativity of societies. If anything, they will turn themselves into good schools — and we do need more good schools.

The writer teaches economics at the O. P. Jindal Global University, where he is also deputy director of International Institute for Higher Education Research and  Capacity Building

Thursday, June 16, 2016

13-member team from MP in Kota to study suicides - TNN


Shoeb Khan | TNN | Jun 15, 2016, 06.35 AM IST

Jaipur: A 13-member parliamentary committee of Madhya Pradesh is on a two-day visit to Kota to study the local (Kota) administration's recent steps to minimize suicides and stress levels among coaching students.

The committee members include MP's education minister Uma Shankar Gupta, acting leader of Opposition Bala Bachchan along with 9 other MLAs representing all regions of MP. The visit by MP's lawmakers came close on the heels of suicides by school and coaching students in cities like Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain. 

The committee members expressed keen interest in implementing the guidelines issued by Kota collector Ravi Kumar Surpur for coaching institutes and hostel owners in March 2016 in toto. Additional district collector Sunita Daga held a meeting with the members earlier in the day. 

She told TOI, "They are here to study Kota model for coaching institutes and hostels. . They will be meeting coaching institute directors, coaching students, mess operators and local transporters to prepare their report."

Here the committee members opined that guidelines of Kota can be replicated not only in MP but across the country. "The compulsory screening test by coaching institutes will allow the students to make decision keeping their aptitude in mind. 

Secondly, counselling of students and parents on careers beyond IITs will certainly encourage students to look for more colleges other than IITs," said a committee member requesting anonymity.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

26 student suicides in 3 yrs at premier institutes - Tribune

NNEW DELHI September 25 : “Why should we torture them now when we didn’t torture them 15 years ago?” KS Venkatesh, professor of electrical engineering at IIT Kanpur, quips when asked what was driving students to suicides in the premiere institutes of India.
Between 2008 and 2011, IITs, IIMs and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) together reported 26 student suicides; 16 of these at IITs alone and seven at NITs. This Friday, IIT Kanpur saw the fifth suicide in the last three years; the 10th in its entire history. After scribbling a telling note - "I am tired of IIT" -- across his hostel room wall, 18-year-old Mahtab Ahmad ended his life by hanging from a ceiling fan.
Venkatesh, who studied at IIT-K and now heads its faculty association, mourns the terrible reality of students succumbing to academic pressure, but attributes much of this stress to rising expectations of parents and JEE’s mechanical coaching. The coaching trains students to crack entrance exams, but fails them when it comes to the real challenge of being an IITian which involves thinking and innovating.
"I trace much of this to parents who torment their wards for not scoring the top 9 grade. Even during the counselling sessions with JEE crackers, parents ask us what their child’s starting salary would be were he to consider a particular branch. They behave like customers, asking us to show their child’s worth. Naturally, students too no longer come to us for the love of learning. They basically come to make money. It’s time parents start telling children to do as well as they can, not as well as they must," says Venkatesh.

He also warns of growing depression among M Tech students who stay on for research instead of jumping into jobs after four years of graduation.

Eighty per cent IIT suicides in the last three years have involved undergraduates UGs. Causes of stress vary as an IIT Delhi student explains, "The first year is tough as you are getting to absorb the system where professors naturally demand performance from you. That’s the nature of IITs. The stress of scoring is the highest in the first two years. In the final year, peer pressure is at its worst as you face the fiercely competitive campus placements. Here top scorers are major gainers; hence the pressure on low scorers."

On May 2, an M Tech student from IIT Madras, Nitin Reddy, committed suicide after being asked to repeat a course in the final year. This meant losing the job he had landed. IIT Madras later concluded that Nitin was depressed, but his father approached the National Human Rights Commission for justice.

UB Desai, Director of IIT Hyderabad, say the systems - such as counselling units - are in place, though more psychologists are needed. The institutes also appoint faculty advisers for freshers to help them understand the new place. But all this has not always helped. In IIT Bombay, for example, the counselling unit failed to identify regular visitor Srikant Malapulla (21) as a depressive. He later committed suicide.

Alarmed by the surging cases, IIT Council recently decided to set up a taskforce of directors to study the problem which Prof Sanjay Dhande, Director, IIT Kanpur, describes as a "social scourge". He wants the media to stop glorifying the IITs and NITs as the only quality institutes. "Turn the arc lights to other unsung institutes; ease the stress on IITians," he appeals, asking parents to tame their expectations.

"Students must also realise they now have more freedoms without responsibilities. There are distractions like cell phones and the internet. These issues require introspection considering changing moral values and lifestyles," he says.

An IIT-K panel constituted to look into the spate of suicides had earlier suggested an end to single-room hostel occupancy system and suggested that students share the rooms. They also said ceiling fans should be replaced with pedestal fans and internet speed should be reduced to prevent unhindered web access in the institutes. The logic given was constant internet use left students too tired to concentrate on lessons.

The new taskforce, directors say, will give fresh suggestions. Meanwhile, the IIT faculty admits they have been unable to attend to students the way they used to. Since 2007, the intake at all central educational institutes increased manifold following the 27 per cent mandatory OBC reservation. "At IIT-K, the student teacher ratio used to be 8:1. It is now 16:1," Venkatesh explains.

In a lighter vein, he even suggests that ragging must be allowed in small, decent measures to ensure that seniors talk to juniors and inter-personal ties build. "Look at our students today. Each one is an island, each one a loner," he says.

(Courtesy : The Tribune, Chandigarh)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Woman biker returns home after riding solo across nation on anti-suicide campaign - India.com


As people cheered the young mother returning home, she recounted the positivity she had encountered during her journey. "It's a wonderful feeling, and I have covered 38,000 kilometers in India, all the states and union territories.


By ANI on June 13, 2016 at 2:15 PM


Hyderabad ( Telangana), June 13 : A woman biker who embarked on an anti-suicide mission by riding solo across India reached her hometown Hyderabad on Sunday after a successful stint. Sana Iqbal embarked on a solo countrywide ride on November 23 last year from Goa. After having suffered from depression herself, she wanted to encourage others to never give up in life.

As people cheered the young mother returning home, she recounted the positivity she had encountered during her journey. ”It’s a wonderful feeling, and I have covered 38,000 kilometers in India, all the states and union territories. So it’s a fantastic experience. Wherever I went, I met a lot of people who were very helpful, who really wanted to, you know, do something for the betterment of the society. I mean, I just came across a lot of positivity wherever I went,” she said

During the campaign, Iqbal conducted seminars in several universities on how to combat depression. ”There are two options: one is, we discuss an issue but don’t do anything constructive, only keep pointing out the negativities. The second option is when people choose to correct the wrongs. So that’s exactly what I thought. I love riding. I was interested in it. I thought, if I ride and someone is benefitted because of it, then why not,” he added.

Iqbal has been counseling patients with depression even in the past and plans to continue doing so in the future as well. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 15 persons in India committed suicide every hour in 2014. More than 800,000 people each year worldwide commit suicide – around one person every 40 seconds – the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in September 2014.


Modified Date: June 13, 2016 2:15 PM

Friday, June 10, 2016

Suicides: NCPCR summons Kota collector tomorrow - India Today


June 8, 2016 | UPDATED 22:45 IST

New Delhi, Jun 8 (PTI) 

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has summoned Kota District Collector tomorrow regarding a spate of suicide cases involving IIT-aspirants studying in various coaching centres in the town. The commission is probing 44 suicide cases in the coaching hub during past three years. This is the second summons in two months for the District Collector Ravi Kumar Surpur, a senior NCPCR official said today.

"We are not getting any co-operation from the local administration. We have sought information from them on 33 points. We want to know how many teaching and non-teaching staff are there across coaching centres.

"We have also demanded that the police verification of the staff be carried out. We want to know how many authorised and un-authorised hostels there are in Kota for students. 

This time we want the district collector to give us the date on an affidavit by when he will share all the information with us," the official said. The Commission, which has been probing the matter since December last, visited Kota in April to carry out an inspection.


"We saw that these (coaching) centres were in a terrible condition. There were 250 students packed in one classroom, there is no grievance redressal system for students and even though there is a helpline number available the same has not been displayed at these centres. We also noticed that at one of the centres there were only four counsellors for 77,000 students," the official said. 

PTI JC RCJ RG RCJ

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Peek Into The Coaching Centres Of Kota Reveals Just Why It’s Becoming A Suicide Zone by Ritu Singh - Scoop Whoop

Jun 02, 2016 at 16:29


"Yahan suicides hote rehte hain" (suicides keep happening here), a student from one of Kota's coaching institute casually quipped when ScoopWhoop asked him about the spate of suicides in the town. While I was still weighing the density of this seemingly normal experience of his, it struck me how such a tragic travesty has transformed into a regular affair.


The count this year has reached 10 already

A 17-year-old IIT aspirant Nirmal Yogi, studying at a coaching institute in Kota, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his rented room in Mahaveer Nagar area this week, making it the 10th such incident this year

Say the name Kota, and you are instantly reminded of a volley of coaching centres which shelter the dreams of thousand of students every year. Over the last decade, Kota has emerged as a coaching hub for those preparing for entrance examinations for top engineering and medical colleges. But behind the successful Rs 300-crore coaching industry, recent suicides have, of late, marred its reputation.

A quick search of the word Kota on Google will sum up the basic attributes of this city:

"Naam bade aur darshan chote," this is what one student who just finished his coaching from Kota told us, when asked to sum up his experience in one sentence. 

So, what is it about this place that drives students to take the extreme step? 

It puts tremendous pressure on students
'Doctors and engineers', India is obsessed with this phrase. For the average middle class, the allure of IITs and IIMs is something which will never fade away. Obsession with those two prized professions remains so much so that they constantly pressurize their kids to achieve what may be impossible for them.


What comes next are the gruelling work schedules, 18 hours of rigorous study sessions, frequent tests and fierce competition that drive students to the edge. Also, the age at which these youngsters come here is the time when they go through physical as well as psychological changes. Being away from home for the first time, being in constant stress and failing to understand such changes, they fall prey to depression.
  • 'If you can't get into IIT, you are worthless'
Shine or be left behind. Entry into IITs or the other engineering and medical schools is seen as the only measure of worth and that is the only message drilled continuously into the students' heads by the teachers and coaching institutes, said another student. 

For these institutes, churning out IITians is what gives them their edge and helps them run their sprawling business. So, they push students to extreme levels and make them realize that getting into these institutes is the only salvation for them. 
  • There is no place for mediocrity
If you are an average student, prepare to be traumatized. These coaching institutes usually have the habit of segregating students into different batches on the basis of their performance. Because they just want the best out of the lot and ignore those who are not so bright as their counterparts.

The students who score the most are given more facilities and are taught by the institution's best teachers while the other section is assigned to the new and inexperienced ones. Those who lag in their studies live in terror of these internal assessments, continuously feeling inferior and inadequate.

This Facebook post on the Page Kota Confessions gives a brief idea of what the situation is:

No fee refund policies who want a way out
Coaching classes charge a hell lot, at least 200,000 rupees for a two-year course, which for the Indian middle-class families is a significant amount. But the parents who are hell-bent on pushing their kids to country's prestigious institutes don't think twice before investing in the hopes that a fancy degree would bring greater returns. 

But unfortunately, once you get into these institutes, there are usually no refund options if you want to make an exit. Despite unfavorable circumstances, some students still stick around due to financial constraints in hopes to not dash their parents' dreams killing their instead.
  • Most coaching centres have no counsellors
Students operate under high stress levels which mean that's the reason the town also has a high rate of suicide. Another student who didn't wish to name his coaching institute said many centres don't have counsellors despite guidelines. In such a rigid environment, the dearth of counselors and a guiding hand only leaves the students directionless. 

Though considering the suicide rates, many helpline centres have been opened who say they get frantic calls from students that they want to end their lives.
  • There are other reasons too...
A student studying at Resonance coaching institute however refuted some of the obvious theories about suicides. He said that many suicides happen here because of relationship issues, drug abuse and the fact that these teenagers in absence of parental guidance adopt bad practices and get into bad company.

"Sorry for being weak, and not showing courage, but I am tired now, no strength left," Kriti Tripathi, another 17-year-old IIT aspirant who had committed suicide on April 28 wrote in her suicide letter, which perhaps sums up the unsettled minds of these aspirants.

Whatever be the case, the trend of these young kids choosing death over life is disturbing. Let's not burden them with colossal hopes and just let them be.

(Names of the students have been withheld to protect their privacy)







IIT Aspirant Commits Suicide In Kota; 10th Such Case This Year- Huffington Post

PTI

Posted: 31/05/2016 18:31 IST Updated: 31/05/2016 19:17 IST

A 17-year-old IIT aspirant, studying at a coaching institute in Kota, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his rented room in Mahaveer Nagar area, the 10th such incident in the coaching hub this year.
Nirmal Yogi, a Class XII student and a resident of Sawai Madhopur district, on Monday night hanged himself from the fan using a towel, police said.
The body was sent to a hospital for postmortem on Tuesday morning, police said, adding no suicide note was found in the room.

A probe has been launched in the matter to ascertain why he took the extreme step.
Another student had last month ended her life despite having cracked the IIT-JEE mains. The girl had in a suicide note said she was not able to put up with the depression and stress that she had been experiencing while taking coaching and that the government should down coaching institutes.
In the wake of increasing cases of suicides by students, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh had recently said a body formed to regulate coaching institutes. "The body should also decide the admission procedure to these institutes and direct them to reduce the pressure on students," he had said.

IIT-Aspirant Allegedly Commits Suicide In Kota, 6th Death This Year - NDTV


Cities | Written by Harsha Kumari Singh | Updated: June 01, 2016 10:14 IST


KOTA: 
HIGHLIGHTS
  1. Nirmal Yogi allegedly killed self after performing poorly in tests
  2. He was prepping for admission to IITs for the past two years
  3. 6 student suicides reported from coaching hub Kota this year

A 17-year-old student prepping for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology or IITs allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a fan at his rented room in Kota in Rajasthan on Monday night, the police have said.

Nirmal Yogi, a Class XII student and a resident of Sawai Madhopur district, is the sixth student to have died in the coaching hub this year. He was prepping for admission to the premier engineering institute for the past two years.

No suicide note was found in his room.  But his family says he was "depressed" after performing poorly in tests conducted twice a month to review students' progress.

"He was depressed. Every 15 days there is a test. He didn't get good marks so he was tense," said Nirmal's uncle.

Nirmal's body has been sent to hospital for postmortem, the police said, adding that an investigation has been ordered in the case.

The small desert town of Kota, nearly 250 km from Jaipur, accommodates a range of coaching institutes to prep students for the IIT and medical entrance exams.

Nearly 11 lakh students sit for the IIT entrance every year. Of these, two lakh qualify the mains and only 10,000 are eventually accepted by the IITs.

After another student ended her life despite having cracked the IIT-JEE mains last month, a senior administration official, Collector Ravi Kumar Surpur, had sent a letter to the parents of the 1.5 lakh students enrolled for coaching in Kota, urging them "not to force their expectations and dreams on their children".

Seventeen students taking coaching committed suicide in Kota last year, after which guidelines to coaching institutes to check such deaths were initiated.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IIT aspirant commits suicide in Kota; 10th such case this year - The Hindu

KOTA (RAJASTHAN), May 31, 2016


A 17-year-old IIT aspirant, studying at a coaching institute here, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his rented room in Mahaveer Nagar area, the 10th such incident in the coaching hub this year.
Nirmal Yogi, a Class XII student and a resident of Sawai Madhopur district, last night hanged himself from the fan using a towel, police said.
The body was sent to a hospital for postmortem this morning, police said, adding no suicide note was found in the room.
A probe has been launched in the matter to ascertain why he took the extreme step.
Another student had last month ended her life despite having cracked the IIT-JEE mains. The girl had in a suicide note said she was not able to put up with the depression and stress that she had been experiencing while taking coaching and that the government should down coaching institutes.


In the wake of increasing cases of suicides by students, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh had recently said a body formed to regulate coaching institutes. “The body should also decide the admission procedure to these institutes and direct them to reduce the pressure on students,” he had said.