India’s future getting jeopardized with increasing student suicides

May 11, 2011 at 07:17 am

India’s suicide figures have risen starkly over the past few decades. Statistics show that India has the highest suicide rate in the world, marginally behind China. 95-100 people commit suicide in India every day and of these a whopping 40% are in the adolescent age group [Source: CNN-IBN Report, Jan 13 2010]. So the main concern is what is pushing our students to the edge?

After reviewing information from various media sources, research papers and so on, the following relevant factors have evolved.

Lack of empathy by parents
The numbers don’t show the true picture of the situation as many incidents go unreported as parents try to hide the reason of death from the police. The main reason for a student to commit suicide is the increasing academic pressure. However this pressure is not only from the teachers but from their parents & the society too. Education system prevalent in India adds to this pressure. It is a common notion among the people that good marks are required to get good job. Moreover, education is now also a lot more about status quotient. And to take it even beyond that, parents some times don’t show much concern in finding what their child is best in and intends to do. In the process, what they forget is the overall development of the child. Continuously struggling to fulfill their parent’s ever increasing expectation of academic excellence, the student finally succumbs to the pressure and at times opts to end their life. At this point, one may think that expectations of the parents were there in the past as well but suicide rate was less at that time. This is explained below.

The population of India is increasing exponentially, but the number of schools or colleges is not increasing at the same rate. As a result, the competition for getting into the good schools and colleges is even tougher today. The cut-off marks to get into good institutes are high as well putting students under extreme pressure. However there are two reasons for student suicides - one is due to failure of exam and the other one is the fear of failure. The girls’ suicide rate is higher than boys because many fear being married off if they flunk in their exams.

The Indian Education system
Subsequently the main concern is India’s education system which is based on rote learning, or memorization, with a strong emphasis on scoring high marks. It’s a high time for policy makers to think about the education system. The exam should be structured in such a way that the students do not have to bank on memory. Rather it should emphasize on their thinking ability.

Need of a strong student counselling system in place
Government and NGOs have set-up stress release call centers for students and they witness increase in receipt of calls every time exams are round the corner or on. In an NGO Asra, distressed teenagers accounted for 70 percent of the phone calls to their helpline. But not everyone makes a call and as a result ends up taking extreme measures. To counter this, the only thing that we can do other than mature behavior by parents is to set-up counseling sessions in every school, particularly, so as to build young minds mature and mentally strong at the right time. Installing a counselor as a necessity and not as an option can go a long way to fix this.

We can very well conclude that the absurd situation can be controlled to a greater extent if the mental aspect of the children is taken care of, along with greater maturity on part of parents and teachers in handling students. If parents and society can do that, that is basically equivalent to change in out look of society and hence more space for the students. Educational system needs a re-look and we need better and more learned placeholders in the shoes of Ministry of Education.

Finishing remarks to all of this is that failure in one exam does not mean failure in life.

Quoting Kalam’s words, it says that “The greatest minds of a nation may be found on the last benches of the classroom”.

Rusha Patra
Research Scholar, IIT Kharagpur

Source: Indian Matters! | Alliswellhelpline


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