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Kota suicides: Education Minister vows to tackle dummy schools & prioritize student well-being

October 9, 2023

The rising number of student suicides in Kota, a prominent coaching hub, is a deeply concerning issue, according to Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. He emphasized that the well-being of students and addressing the problem of “dummy schools” are essential responsibilities that cannot be ignored.

In an interview with PTI, Pradhan expressed his concern over the record number of student suicides in Kota this year. He stressed that this issue is highly sensitive, and every effort should be made to prevent the loss of young lives. Pradhan highlighted the government’s initiatives to reduce the necessity for coaching and promote the sufficiency of regular school education.

Kota has witnessed a distressing surge in student suicides this year, with a total of 23 reported cases so far, including two occurring within hours of each other on August 27. Last year, the number of suicides in the coaching hub was 15.

Annually, over 2.5 lakh students move to Kota to prepare for engineering and medical entrance exams like JEE and NEET. Many of these students enroll in schools in their home states and travel to Kota for coaching, attending only the board exams and skipping full-time school attendance. The issue of “dummy schools,” which are not attended regularly, has been a subject of concern among experts who argue that it can hinder students’ personal development and contribute to feelings of isolation and stress.

Pradhan acknowledged the significance of addressing the issue of dummy schools, even though the number of students in such schools is relatively small compared to the total student population. He stressed that the central government is working to eliminate the need for coaching and striving to establish a progressive and student-centric education system. Pradhan pointed to examples like Navodaya Vidyalayas, where students perform well in competitive exams without relying on additional coaching. He emphasized that both central and state governments share the responsibility of ensuring that regular school education is sufficient.

The recently issued guidelines by the Rajasthan government for coaching institutes include recommendations such as refraining from highlighting toppers, maintaining the confidentiality of routine test results, avoiding the segregation of students based on their ranks, and implementing a policy that allows easy withdrawal and refunds within 120 days. These guidelines were developed in consultation with coaching institutes and other stakeholders. They also prohibit coaching institutes from encouraging students below Class 9 to enroll for medical and engineering entrance exam preparations.

In response to the increase in suicide cases, the Kota administration has taken several measures, including requiring the installation of anti-hanging devices in fans and suspending exams at coaching institutes for two months. The anti-hanging device, initially introduced by the Kota Hostel Association in 2017 and later mandated by the district administration, prevents suicide attempts by expanding a spring and triggering a siren if an object weighing more than 20 kg is hung from the fan. Additionally, “anti-suicide nets” are being installed in balconies and lobbies of hostels in Kota to deter students from taking extreme actions.

Source: PTI

Also read: Kota student suicides: Experts underline role of mental grooming

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