(If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these numbers of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs)
In an attempt to address the high student suicide rate in Rajasthan's Kota, the state government has issued guidelines for coaching institutes.
Details: Spanning ten pages, the guidelines were announced by the CM Ashok Gehlot-led government on Wednesday, 27 September.
They have reportedly been framed after holding consultations with various stakeholders, including coaching institutes.
Why it matters: Kota has seen an alarming trend of suicides recently, with over 25 students dying by suicide in this year alone, marking the highest it has been in over eight years, according to The Indian Express.
Zoom in: Looking to alleviate the mental pressure that students at Kota are under, the following guidelines have been issued by the Rajasthan government.
The results of routine tests are to be kept confidential.
No segregation of students into special batches based on their ranks or assessment test results.
It is mandatory for coaching institutes to decide the batches alphabetically at the time of admission of students.
A policy for easy exit from the enrolled institute should be set up, and fees should be refunded within 120 days .
Institutes are not supposed to encourage students below Class 9 to enroll in coaching institutes for preparation of medical and engineering entrance exams.
Teachers should receive training in behaviour change communication so that they can identify the students who are in need of help.
Teachers are not allowed to discriminate against students based on their academic performance.
Coaching centres should hold regular counselling sessions for students every 45 days, 90 days, and 120 days.
Anything else? Yes, the state government has also recommended that coaching centres take additional measures such as:
Mandatory weekly holidays
To avoid holding exams on the day after a holiday
Establishing a code of conduct for faculty and hostels
Facial recognition to prevent attendance fraud
Some context: The guidelines comes after a 15-member high-level committee submitted a report to the Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot-led government, recommending policy changes to improve the well-being of students in the city.
In its report, the committee led by Education Secretary Bhawani Singh Detha identified the following ten factors behind the dramatic increase in Kota's suicide rates:
Disappointment due to extreme competition
Low success rate in examinations
High expectations of parents
Lack of a proper counselling and grievance redressal mechanism
Segregation of batches on basis of performance in assessment tests
Passing comments on students
Lack of co-curricular activities
Staying away from family
What next? District collectors of the state are required to sensitise stakeholders in order to ensure that they comply with the guidelines.
The guidelines also suggest that coaching centres sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state government and NIMHANS to offer WHO-recommended Gatekeeper Training.