Rajkumar Hirani, in 2009, made ” 3 Idiots” with Rancho, Farhan and Raju as the lead characters. The story revolved around the three and their experiences in the “prestigious” engineering college. Farhan, who was passionate about wildlife photography, had to give up his dream to pursue the dream of his father- to see his son become an engineer. Even, Pia’s brother had given up his life as he wanted to be a writer and not an Engineer. The movie was a box office hit at the time and served as an eye opener for many. But, from current newspaper reports, it is evident that it failed to have a lasting effect.
Kota, a city in Rajasthan, has in recent years developed into a hub of coaching institutes. Thousands of students from all over the country arrive here every year hoping to crack the IIT or the Medical Entrance Exams. This surge of institutes has immensely helped in rebuilding the economy of the city which was in a moribund state two decades back.
It seems that the prefixes of “Dr.” and “Er.” still attract a large section of the Indian population who are ready to go to any extent to achieve them. And when they are unable to do so, they pin their hopes on their children. These institutes assert themselves as the gateway to fulfilling their dreams. Negligence about other career prospects have further added to their growth.
These centres do not have any screening tests and admit everyone who is ready to pay the unreasonable fees. As a result, many students who do not have an aptitude for science are forcefully made to enter the vicious cycle on emotional grounds. The heavy loans taken by their parents add to their misery.
Once the classes start, there is a sorting process that takes place after every test. Different batches are formed on the basis of performance. The low scorers are segregated from the higher ones and special attention is given to those who performed well. This has a demotivating effect on the young minds who then suffer from inferiority complex. The potential toppers are given a celebrity treatment as they can call the faculty at anytime for doubt-solving. Flats, proper food and other facilities are also provided so that they can have a comfortable atmosphere to study. While others who could not score well are made to feel like losers.
Even at their PGs they face adjustment problems due to homesickness and loneliness. Having to live alone far away from their families at such a young age affects them mentally. Many of them often take to bad habits like smoking and drinking. The new system of dummy schools where though they are enrolled as students but instead attend coaching classes has reduced the effective number of school years. As a result, they are unable to participate in extra-curricular activities. Growing number of study hours and no extra curricular activities act as a huge dampener to their personalities.
New courses for 13-14 year olds have also sprung up in these institutes to catch them early and extract more and more money from their parents. Long study schedules burden them who often fall victim to many physical as well as mental diseases. Even if they want to opt out from the course, they are unable to do so due to lack of fee refund policies. They continue to bear the circumstances and finally their saturation level comes when they are unable to handle anymore pressure.
The recent reports of student suicides in Kota are testimony to the brutal treatment they are given at these coaching institutes. Unable to cope up with the growing level of stress and the fear of failure forces these student to take their lives. Death seems to them as a better alternative than facing their parents after failure.
The growing trend of student suicides led the district collector of Kota, last week, to make an emotional appeal to the parents of IIT and medical aspirants. “Are we interested in making the child realize ‘Your Dreams’ at any cost or should it be like creating such situations that the child realizes ‘His/Her’ Dreams?” – he insisted the parents in an open letter. Other interventions by the district administration to reverse this trend includes- making it mandatory for coaching classes to appoint counselors to help the distressed students and reviving the helpline number.
Strict rules should be enforced by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to regulate these centres. Even shutting them down can be considered as an option. Many students, who really have the aptitude for science, have cracked the exam on their own without taking any coaching. For those who do not have the aptitude for science, IITs and AIIMS are not the end of the world. There are better opportunities in the world waiting to be explored. Parents should ask their children what interests them the most and should provide them with the necessary encouragement and opportunities.
Every year, these “reputed” institutes publish pictures of their successful students. Many a times they even pay these students to get their pictures published, in order to get the credit for their success. But nobody talks about those who could not make it. What happens to them??… Where do they go?? Yes many of them do find their pictures published in the newspapers with a suicide note addressed to their parents…