Kota student suicides: DM orders officers to visit coaching centres and hostels - Hindustan Times
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Kota student suicides: DM orders officers to visit coaching centres and hostels

Dec 02, 2023 09:04 PM IST

The Kota district collector has ordered a team of 12 nodal officers to weekly visit 10 coaching centres and hostels across the district and submit a report to him on their findings

Days after Rajasthan’s Kota recorded two student suicides within 48 hours, district collector Mahaveer Prasad Meena has ordered a team of 12 nodal officers to weekly visit 10 coaching centres and hostels across the district and submit a report to him on their findings. So far this year, the coaching hub has recorded 27 student suicides.

Kota’s coaching hub has recorded 27 student suicides this year. (Representative Image)
Kota’s coaching hub has recorded 27 student suicides this year. (Representative Image)

The 12 people assigned for the task are the Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) officers who were already supervising implementation of the state government’s September 28 guidelines to curb student suicides in the district.

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“In an order issued on Friday, the DM ordered each RAS officer to personally visit 10 coaching centres and 10 hostels every week, interact with the students there, and also supervise whether the rules and regulations of the guidelines are being properly followed. They will later directly submit their findings to the collector and further actions will be taken accordingly,” additional district magistrate Rajkumar Singh said on Saturday.

The collector has also appointed an RAS officer to help bridge the communication gap between the coaching centres and the parents of the students.

“Another RAS officer Gajendra Singh was also appointed, particularly to bridge the communication gap between the institutes and the parents. To prevent such an incident that took place in Motion’s student’s case, the coaching centre was asked to immediately report to that RAS officer when they fail to communicate with the parents. This officer will later take necessary action to communicate with them and provide the student with necessary treatment on the administration’s behalf,” he added.

The development comes days after a 22-year-old student preparing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), for admission in undergraduate medical courses, allegedly died by suicide in Kota’s Jawahar Nagar area on November 27, two days after a 20-year-old NEET aspirant from West Bengal reportedly died by suicide at his rented accommodation at Waqf Nagar in Dadabari area.

Following the two incidents in a week, the district collector held a meeting with coaching directors and hostel owners in the city on November 28, and issued three notices — one on November 26 to the coaching centre of the West Bengal student and two others to the coaching centre and hostel of the second student, accusing them of displaying “sheer negligence in boosting the morale of the student and also non-compliance of government orders”. The collector asked the institutes to submit a reply within three days.

“In its reply, the institute said that the parents of the student were contacted several times in the last few months when he was diagnosed with severe depression in their in-house counselling, but they did not visit the student despite several appeals,” Singh said.

The father of the student, however, has maintained: “He was absolutely fine. He was also in regular touch with us. A few days back, he said that he wanted to come back but later everything was okay. The coaching centre once complained about his lack of attention in study. I told him. He said he will make up for everything.”

According to police records, 15 students died by suicide in Kota in 2022, 18 in 2019, 20 in 2018, seven in 2017, 17 in 2016, and 18 in 2015. No suicide incidents were reported in 2020 and 2021 as coaching institutes were shut or switched to online mode due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Deemed as the coaching capital of India, Kota’s entrance test-preparation business is estimated at 10,000 crore annually. Students from across the country arrive in the city, nearly 300 km from state capital Jaipur, in huge numbers after completing class X and register in these residential institutes to prepare for competitive examinations, such as NEET for admissions to medical and dental colleges, and Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE) for engineering colleges.

Some students, however, find the grind stressful, especially because they are away from their families. Taking note of a surge in students’ suicides, the Rajasthan government on September 28 issued new guidelines, notifying a mandatory screening test, alphabetical sorting of students into sections instead of a ranking-based one. It also mandated the creation of monitoring centres in Kota and Sikar, major coaching centres in the state, and a portal to house “all relevant data of students enrolled in coaching institutes”.

The guidelines, based on the recommendations of a 15-member committee headed by higher education secretary Bhawani Singh Detha, also prescribed legal action against faculty of coaching institutes if they violate any of the regulations. Though no details of legal actions were mentioned in the guidelines, the committee had said, “Such violation that may severely affect the students’ mental health will be considered as a criminal act and the district administration will take necessary legal action against it.”

Twelve RAS-level officers were subsequently given the charge of supervising the administrative monitoring teams for the implementation of the guidelines. The district administration has also decided to circulate a special poster comprising the students’ helpline numbers, the website address of the district administration’s student portal, and the contacts of the Kota police student cell at all the places from the hostel to the coaching centers to spread more awareness among the students.

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