Rajasthan govt issues guidelines for coaching institues to keep a check on suicides. The new regulation asks the coaching centres to keep test results confidential, train teachers in behaviour change communication, bars admitting students below class 9, compulsory screening tests, set batches alphabetically, and counseling.
The regulation comes after the numerous suicide cases of students preparing for engineering and medical entrance exams like National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Exam (JEE).
The government guidelines were issued after setting up a 15-member committee headed by the Education Secretary to control the increasing number of suicides by coaching students. The guidelines have been formulated after the talks with the coaching institutes and other stakeholders.
Easy exit and refund policy
Among the recommendations made in the Rajasthan government’s guidelines for coaching institutes, there are restrictions on encouraging students below Class 9 to take admission in coaching institutes. Students below class 9 who are already admitted in the coaching centres and want to leave, the institute should provide them a full refund. A policy for easy exit and refund within 120 days has been made.
Also, it has been made mandatory for coaching institutes to decide the batches alphabetically at the time of admission of students and not make any changes in the batches till the completion of the course. It has been mandated to put a stop to the practice of setting up batches based on assessment test results.
Counselling for students and training for staff
The guidelines also recommend that a trilateral MoU be inked between the state government, coaching centres and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) to impart the Gatekeeper Training recommended by the WHO to all staff of coaching centres.
According to the guidelines, training teachers in behaviour change communication so that they can identify students in need of help. The coaching institutes will also have 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 check on the students’ psychological health regularly. Coaching centres should hold counselling sessions for students on completion of 45 days, 90 days and 120 days.
Additional recommendations that are part of the guidelines aim to alleviate mental pressure on students, including measures such as facial recognition to prevent attendance fraud, mandatory weekly holidays, avoiding exams on the day after a holiday, and establishing a code of conduct for faculty and hostels.
The guidelines states the main reasons for the suicides were mental pressure, disappointment due to extreme competition and low success rate in examinations, high expectations of parents, lack of a proper counselling and grievance redressal mechanism, segregation of batches on basis of ranks in assessment tests and passing comments on students along with other factors such as monotonous environment, lack of co-curricular activities and staying away from family.
Moreover, legal actions will be taken against the faculty of the coaching institute violating the code of conduct. The monitoring cell will have the required data of all the students admitted in these coaching centres through a ‘dedicated integrated portal’ which will be developed by the state government soon.