Who Is To Be Blamed For Kota’s Student Suicides?

Coaching centres blame the parents, but they are just as responsible, as is the cut throat competition of the Indian education system.

Trigger Warning: This deals with student suicides and may be triggering to survivors.

In the chaotic realm of competitive education systems, mental health must be the top priority, given how significant it is to students’ well-being as a whole. This write-up explores the troubling situation that students in Kota, Rajasthan are facing.

Mental health should not take a backseat

Kota students had significant rates of anxiety, insomnia, and substance misuse, according to reports. Students made up 8% of all suicides in India in 2021, an increase of 70% in just ten years. In 2023, Kota, known as the ‘coaching factory‘ had a record 24 student suicides, which were linked to severe academic pressure, particularly for tests like the JEE Advanced.

One reason is financial hardship, as there are worries about burdening families with school loan debt. Students are not safe even after being accepted into IITs; there have been seven documented suicides among the 23 IITs. The data emphasizes how critical it is to address students’ mental health issues in demanding academic situations.

Recently Supreme Court in a judgement related to the rise in Kota student suicides said “The problem is of parents and not of coaching institutes,” and gave the coaching centers in Kota a clean chit. However, the issue is not just parents, but the education system itself. Even coaching centers play a role. It’s multifaceted. It’s not fair to absolve the coaching centers.

A blame-game?

According to a news report, following many applicants’ suicides, officials in Rajasthan’s Kota district had ordered coaching centers to stop regularly testing students getting ready for competitive exams like NEET in September and October 2023. But right after, the judgment seems to have passed which contradicts or shows a shift in perspective and responsibility.

Focus on short-term solutions

The proactive measures by far include putting “anti-suicide nets” in dormitories and turning on a thorough surveillance system. As per the “darwaze pe dastak (knock on the door)” campaign, if a student consistently misses meals, is not present at the mess, or has unfinished tiffin, the police have asked the mess staff and tiffin service providers to report the incident. These measures are superficial and do not address the root cause.

At his meetings with stakeholders on August 27, Kota District Collector Om Prakash Bunkar made recommendations like “spiritual and yoga classes, celebrity entertainment events, and psychological assessment services”. While these programs might provide short-term respite, it’s possible that they won’t fully address the underlying systemic problems that ultimately contribute to student stress and mental health problems.

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A better way would be joint efforts by educational institutions, government, parents, and other stakeholders to address the underlying causes of stress and mental health issues that kids suffer, as opposed to placing blame. This might involve talking about how to make the classroom a healthier place for students to learn, as well as making changes to the educational system and providing long-term mental health services.

Who do you think is to be blamed for Kota’s student suicides?

Published here first.

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Mirali Borde

Mirali Borde is an aspiring writer trying to make it in this world. read more...

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