After celebrating here in the blog yesterday the attempt to remove unacceptably sexist language from the Indian judiciary, today brings a counter-balancing piece of news from this amazing but often frustrating country.
One step forward, one step backwards.
Let me give you a little background to today’s blog, for those of you not familiar with the frenzy of coaching classes and tutors that is an inherent part of many Indian youngsters’ “education”.
There is a town in the state of Rajasthan called Kota. Google “Kota + coaching” and you will be bombarded with links to different coaching centres.
Go on, just try it, and you’ll see what I mean.
Kota is known for the sheer number of these centres, that prepare youngsters for the competitive exams for highly prized university subjects like engineering and medecine.
Sadly, there is so much pressure on these teenagers to study and – it goes without saying, to excel – that student suicides are increasing. Just 2 days ago the latest youngster to commit suicide in Kota was an 18 year old:
A student in Rajasthan’s Kota died by suicide on Tuesday night. This becomes fourth suicide this month and 22th case this year, once again bringing the student deaths in the entrance coaching hub to the spotlight.
In the article the reporter says, and I quote:
Well, not exactly.
This, if you please, is what the Rajasthan government today saw fit to decree, as its answer to these teenage suicides – installing spring-loaded fans in all rooms “to provide students mental support and security”.
I mean…what the actual…
There is clearly little awareness of the mental health requirements of these under-pressure kids, who away from home, and are all too aware of the “need” to succeed. Money has been spent on these classes, and more will be spent on their future college education, and succeed they must.
If these dreadful suicides and this risible reaction can serve as trigger to correct this vicious cycle of pressure, so much the better.
If it were up to me, I’d abolish all these damned coaching centres, which put way too much pressure on youngsters. But the notion of tutors and coaching is so engrained in society here, that there’s no way Kota will suddenly stop being a coaching hub.
All we can hope for is that parents start to prioritise their children’s happiness and well-being, rather than packing them off to these places.
And for those teenagers who continue to study in places like Kota, the government needs to up its game.
And spring-loaded ceiling fans are not the answer.
Please God parents and educators and government will all act together, prioritising these youngsters who only want to succeed.
But at what cost?