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Dead before they got started
With the rising incidence of suicides, higher education has to pick up fast in India to reduce the performance pressure
24/11/2011

With the Indian education system proving its mettle with those chosen few ‘bright’ students, most of its unwanted side effects are disregarded. One of them is the alarming incidence of student suicides in India. With an overwhelming 7379 cases in 2010 (compared to 5857 cases reported in 2006 as per National Crime Records Bureau), immediate attention is the need of the hour.

According to academicians and mental health professionals, the major culprit is the entire philosophy behind the existing education system, where performance ranks above everything else. The associated pressure from parents, peers and society to excel in every sphere, poor regard for individual talent and blind obsession with a few career options are most likely causes. The national capital is among the leaders on this front with a total of 166 cases in 2010. Maharashtra and West Bengal have recorded the maximum cases and over the past decade, the two have only exchanged places.

Rather than introducing minor changes in the syllabus, India need a change in the entire functioning of the system. Steps like having more counsellors in schools, revamping the marks-oriented education system and opening stress management cells in educational institutions across the country are increasingly becoming important. More importantly, education at higher levels needs to keep pace with the demand so that pressure on performance comes down. Recently, a task force set up by the Ministry of Education pegged the faculty shortage in India at 54% and concluded that 3,00,000 more professors are needed. Also, India needs four times the number of universities as compared to what it has currently. It’s time we eased the mental suffering in the minds of our youth, all because the system hasn’t been good enough to accommodate them.

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