"All is well" is not that easy to say for everyone. Courtesy, the film '3 Idiots', Bollywood has been successful in highlighting the increasing stress levels in schools and colleges. Competition, one might say, but just imagine the stress one may feel when he/she is stretched beyond capacity? Suicide is a path that many followed in the film when they felt cornered by the authorities or the pressure of examination and tight deadline. Veeru Sahasrabuddhe, the VC of the Imperial College of Engineering did not understand that and so are the institute heads in Andhra Pradesh.
According to a local news channel Sakshi TV, the death toll due to suicide among students was reported to be 50 in just over a month. Incidentally, this has been the case not just for a month since there have been incidences on and off throughout the year. However, what has shaken the authorities back from their sleep is the recent case of a girl from Narayana College who went missing after writing a letter to her parents.
"Sorry mummy, sorry daddy, bye Sunny and Akka. Sunny, bring good marks and a good name to the family. Please do not search for me. I beg that Narayana college be closed since students are getting killed here. They are suffering in this college."
These were the last words of Sai Prajwala before she went missing. This case proves the soaring stress levels among students in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana region; incidentally, also having the highest number of IIT entrants. The entire purpose of academic excellence fails here when the students learn less and strive to excel more. It has become more of a rat race for the students of colleges like Narayana College to grab the best marks and the best jobs. The curriculum too is extremely demanding, which leaves no room for hobbies and extra-curricular activities.
Educational institutions like Narayana and Chaitanya are places where the most number of deaths or depression among students are being reported. Former students say that children are being exposed to an atmosphere of stress at a very young age. They have been ridiculed for not teaching the concepts and that they literally drain the joy out of education. In order to churn out high rankers, the institutes discriminate among students on the basis of marks. A child's passion, talents goes for a toss, nothing productive comes out of such learning say former students of these instituitions.
In Sai Prajwala's case, she was a student at a coaching center in Bindlaguda Narayan College near Hyderabad, she could take the stress of academic life any more. For her running away from the situation ahead was easier than bearing the pressure at college. However, there are some students who resort to the extreme step of committing suicide.
Experts believe that in most of the suicide cases, the victim shows signs of depression and alienation, which often go unnoticed by the relatives of the victim. Her case was not different. According to Sakshi News, police said that her parents had taken her home when she showed extreme signs of depression a few days ago.
The rising numbers
Sai Prajwala's case is not the lone case in point. In fact, in just 10 days, 8 students committed suicide and 60 others ended their lives in the past 3 years. This could have stopped, but for the indifference of the government who go by the success rates of the institutes and the revenue they incur.
It is not just academics it is environment given to them in these institutes that seem to be scaring students. The environment in which the students reside in the hostels can be considered close to uninhabitable, as mentioned in the girl's suicide note. The rooms lack ventilation and the students are not allowed to meet their parents or visiting relatives.
The coaching colleges have a unique way of functioning too. They enrol their students for examination under various institution heads, which increases their competition, thus elevating the stress levels even more. The college faculties are also ill-trained in stress management and motivating the students to give their best and not excel. Some students also complain that the lecturers are not competent enough to answer their doubts. Hurt and humiliation are some of the other factors that add to the stress levels. In most of the cases, students complain that they are hit by the lecturers in front of others and are also subject to abusive languages.
The government authorities seem to be helpless in such a situation since the Narayana college head- P Narayana- is the Cabinet minister who has close ties with Bhaguna Srinivasa Rao-the minister of Education. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said that the government will do everything possible to curb the alarming level of stress levels in schools and colleges.
Having said that, it is also ironical that most of the IIT seats are grabbed by students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. According to a report by India Vidya, students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana top the list of students grabbing seats in IITs, NITs and IIITs. In the year 2016-2017, they are said to have grabbed 6744 seats altogether. In fact, according to a Times of India report, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana comprise the top 5 states that contribute maximum number of students in all the competitive examination. While that is a matter of pride for the dual states, the actual picture behind is rather alarming. Is this the beginning of a future that we had aspired for? The question, however, remains, at the cost of what?