Rajasthan government issues guidelines for coaching centres that no glorification of toppers to be done and results of routine tests to be kept confidential.
Press Trust of India | September 29, 2023 | 05:03 PM IST
JAIPUR: No glorification of toppers, results of routine tests to be kept confidential, no segregation of students in special batches based on their ranks and a policy for easy exit and refund within 120 days are among the recommendations made in the Rajasthan government's guidelines for coaching institutes. The nine-page guidelines have been issued days after the state government set up a 15-member committee headed by Education Secretary Bhawani Singh Detha to examine the issue after record student suicides were reported from coaching hub Kota.
The guidelines, which have been framed in consultation with the coaching institutes and other stakeholders, restrict institutes from encouraging students below Class 9 to take admission in coaching institutes to prepare for medical and engineering entrance exams. "Coaching institutes should not encourage students below Class 9 to take admission. They should give admission after screening tests and counselling to assess their interest. If any registered student below Class 9 wants to leave, the institute should provide them a full refund in 120 days," the guidelines state.
There is a set of other recommendations for institutes to ease mental pressure on the students such as facial recognition to prevent faking attendance, mandatory weekly holidays, not holding exams on the day after a holiday and a code of conduct for faculty and hostels. District collectors have been asked to sensitise all stakeholders in their respective areas and ensure that the guidelines are followed. This year has seen the highest number of student suicides -- 23 so far -- with two ending their lives within a gap of a few hours on August 27. According to official figures, 23 students have committed suicide in Kota this year, the highest ever for the country's coaching hub.
Last year, the figure was 15. The guidelines state legal action will be taken against the coaching institutes found violating the code of conduct. The regulations also mention a monitoring cell for the institutes that will be set up in Kota and Sikar. The cell will have data of all the students studying in coaching institutes through a dedicated portal, to be developed soon by the state government. The guidelines have a provision for "easy exit and refund policy" within 120 days if students and parents feel any inconvenience and uneasiness. It also directs the institutes to decide the batches alphabetically instead of the students' ranks and not to shuffle and segregate them in the middle of the course based on performances in the weekly assessments.
The guidelines also instruct the coaching institutes to not publish the results of routine tests in public and they should counsel the students individually, keeping their marksheets confidential. Additionally, the guidelines prohibit the glorification of toppers by coaching institutes. The Rajasthan government drafted a bill in 2022 to prohibit institutes from glorifying the success of toppers but it was not tabled in the assembly. The new guidelines also include mandatory gatekeeper training for the teachers, institute managers, other staff, and the wardens of hostels and paying guest accommodations to assess the students' behavioural changes and take preventive measures.
"A trilateral memorandum of understanding will be signed with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), the state government and the people who daily communicate with the students such as coaching institutes and the hostel management for such training," the guidelines say. The institutes have also been directed to appoint a sufficient number of professional psychiatrists and counsellors, who should be "recruited by NIMHANS or any psychology expert from a government medical college", to keep a regular check on the students' psychological health. The students will also have to be counselled regularly. The first counselling should be done within 45 days of admission, followed by the second one after 90 days and the third one in 120 days. Vulnerable students assessed during the counselling sessions should be provided optional career counselling, it says.
Over 2.5 lakh students move to Kota annually to prepare for competitive exams such as the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for engineering and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical colleges. With the record spike in suicide cases, the administration has taken several steps, including mandating installation of an anti-hanging device in fans and ordering coaching institutes to not take any exam for two months. The anti-hanging device installation has been encouraged by the Kota Hostel Association since 2017 and finally mandated by the district administration this year. The device uses a spring mechanism -- if an object weighing more than 20 kilogrammes is hung from the fan, the spring attached to it expands, making it impossible for someone to commit suicide.
A siren also goes off simultaneously. "Anti-suicide nets" are also being installed in balconies and lobbies of hostels in Kota to prevent students from taking any extreme step. The police in Kota are also roping in wardens, mess workers and tiffin service providers to look for any signs of depression or stress in the students staying in hostels and paying guest accommodations. While the wardens are being encouraged to participate actively in the "darwaze pe dastak (knock on door)" campaign, the police have urged the mess workers and tiffin service providers to report if a student is absent from the mess repeatedly and skips meals or anyone's tiffin is found unconsumed.
To get in touch, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.