Sat. May 18th, 2024


Toppers won’t be glorified, results of routine tests will be kept confidential, students won’t be segregated into special batches based on their ranks and a policy will be made for easy exit and refund within 120 days – the Rajasthan government’s guidelines for coaching institutes said amid the recent spate of students suicides in Kota.

The nine-page guidelines were 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 in the coaching hub.

The guidelines, framed in consultation with the coaching institutes and stakeholders, restrict institutes from encouraging students below Class 9 to take admission in classes 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 students to assess their interests. If any registered student below Class 9 wants to leave, the institute should provide a full refund in 120 days,” the guidelines said.

There is a set of other recommendations for institutes to ease mental pressure on students such as facial recognition to prevent proxy attendance, mandatory weekly holidays, no 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 areas and ensure that the guidelines are followed.

This year has seen the highest number of student suicides — 25 so far. Last year, the figure was 15.

The guidelines state legal action will be taken against coaching institutes found violating the code of conduct. The regulations also mention a monitoring cell for the institutes to be set up in Kota and Sikar.

The cell will have data of all the students in the coaching institutes through a dedicated portal that will be developed soon by the state government.

The guidelines have a provision for an “easy exit and refund policy” within 120 days if students and parents feel any inconvenience and uneasiness.

It also directs institutes to decide batches alphabetically instead of by the students’ ranks and to not shuffle and segregate them in the middle of the course based on performances in weekly assessments.

The guidelines also instruct the coaching institutes to not publish the results of routine tests in public and that they should counsel the students individually, keeping their mark sheets 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 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 counselling should be given 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 the 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.

“Anti-suicide nets” are also being installed in balconies and lobbies of hostels in Kota to prevent students from dying by suicide.

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 the door)” campaign, the police have urged the mess workers and tiffin service providers to report if a student is absent from the mess repeatedly or skips meals.

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By admin