Despite lofty promises of building a strong, vibrant New India, the alarming rise in student suicides is a grim reminder of the dark underbelly of our education system. While the implementation of the New Education Policy 2020 is underway with a focus on fostering positive attitudes towards education, the harsh reality is that the number of student suicides in India is surging. In 2020, over 12,500 students took their own lives, and this tragic trend continued in 2021 with 13,000 more succumbing to despair, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
The recent suicides of two students in Kota, Rajasthan, bring the city's tally to 23 for the year, emphasizing the gravity of the issue. This "education city" is now tragically becoming a hub of student suicides, with nine occurring in just the past two months. The question looms large: Is this a result of government negligence, administrative failure, the coaching institute system, or a more complex issue?
The ironies surrounding education in India are stark. Education, often hailed as the weapon to transform individuals, society, and the nation, is paradoxically driving students to despair. The root causes of this disturbing trend are multifaceted. The commercialization of education has led to unethical practices, putting immense pressure on students to achieve exceptional exam results and fostering cutthroat competition. Parents, driven by unfulfilled dreams, also burden their children with unrealistic expectations, leading to further stress.
The success of an education system should be measured by accessibility and support, not cutthroat competition. Instead, students are often pushed to the brink by the relentless pressure of entrance exams. The educational mafia compounds this pressure, labeling exams like JEE and NEET as the toughest globally.
To curb the rising tide of student suicides, we must prioritize effective counseling for both students and parents. Coaching institutes, along with the administration, must step up and provide support for students with low scores and those missing classes. The coaching industry is immensely wealthy, estimated to be worth over Rs 58,000 crore by the end of this year. It has the resources to address mental health concerns.
Moreover, student suicides are not confined to coaching institutes; even premier institutions like IITs, NITs, IISERs, IIMs, PMT, and Central Universities are grappling with this issue. It raises questions about the quality of education and the environment in these institutes, as they should nurture high-caliber citizens, not push students toward self-destruction.
Guidelines, such as those implemented by IIT Bombay to discourage discussions on ranks and scores, need to be adopted across the board. Additionally, parents must be educated about their children's true potential, and a collaborative effort between parents, coaching institutes, and the government is crucial to address the crisis in Kota and beyond.
The rising student suicide rate is a complex problem requiring a comprehensive solution. It's not just about the pressure of exams but also encompasses poverty, familial expectations, and societal factors. The administration needs to hold coaching institutes accountable for their actions and implement strict measures against the educational mafia.
In conclusion, the escalating number of student suicides in India is a pressing issue that demands immediate attention and collective action. It is a stark reminder that our education system, despite its aspirations for excellence, is failing to safeguard the well-being of our youth.