Student suicides soar 26% in 5 years, education system blamed

2 Nov

NEW DELHI: Here’s a compelling argument for education reforms in the country: student suicides have increased 26% from 2006 to 2010, with Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai accounting for most victims, in that order. And this is just the official data.

While 5,857 student suicides were reported in 2006, the figure jumped to 7,379 in 2010, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau. In other words, 20 students killed themselves every day in 2010, something both academicians and mental health professionals blame on a flawededucation system where performance pressure ranks above all else. For the first time in five years, Maharashtra recorded the largest number of suicides in 2010, followed by West Bengal.

Over the past decade or so, the two states have only interchanged positions at the top, a phenomenon unexplained by even educationists. Delhi, as a city, alone accounted for 133 deaths in 2010, while as a state, it accounted for 166 deaths.

“The examination system and the selection process for institutions of higher education weigh heavily on young people,” says Shyam Menon, vice-chancellor of Ambedkar University in Delhi. “The volume of students passing out of the school education system and vying for admission to tertiary education has dramatically increased over the years, with competition levels increasing too. At a time when higher education can result in social mobility, the stakes are very high. Today, there is a greater link between employability and higher education.” Menon believes changes in the education system over the years reflect the changes in the Indian middle-class and their high aspirations, which push young people to perform or perish.

Psychiatrist Dr Sanjay Chugh feels the NCRB data is the most reliable evidence that things are only going from bad to worse in the Indian education system. Chugh blames a myopic education system for forcing students to learn what they may never need in life. “Why do we expose our children to such nonsense, with examinations becoming a do-or-die situation where students need a minimum percentage to get into a halfway decent college,” asks Chugh. An inadequate system, coupled with lack of proper social support, pushes students over the brink, says Chugh. “If a child’s parents do not add to the pressure that the education system puts on him, chances are his stress levels will never cross the threshold for suicide.”

Professor Armaity Desai, former chairperson of the University Grants Commission, points to the lack of quality education institutions in the country, with the result that there is a great deal of pressure to perform at critical points of a student’s life, such as board exams. When it comes to student suicides, Desai feels the situation is not being addressed by the Centre or state governments.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: