A 20-year-old student who was preparing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test has died by suicide in Kota, Rajasthan, reported NDTV.
He has been identified as Faureed Hussain from West Bengal’s Birhum district. Hussain had been living in Kota since last year, preparing for exams at a coaching centre, the police said. They have not found any suicide note.
Hussain’s death marks the 28th case of suicide in Kota this year by a student preparing for competitive entrance tests. The city is home to scores of coaching classes for engineering, medical and civil services exams that attract lakhs of students every year.
In August, The Indian Express reported that suicides in Kota this year were at their highest number since 2015. According to the Kota Police, 17 students died by suicide in 2015, 16 in 2016, seven in 2017, 20 in 2018 and eight in 2019. Coaching classes remained shut in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two weeks after a 17-year-old Class 12 student died by suicide in August, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot told officials to form a committee to suggest measures to prevent suicides among students in Kota.
Subsequently, two students died by suicide on August 27, prompting the district administration to pause all exams at coaching centres.
On September 28, Rajasthan notified a set of guidelines recommended by the 15-member committee constituted by Gehlot and headed by Rajasthan’s principal secretary for higher education Bhawani Singh Detha, reported the Hindustan Times.
The guidelines said that all students should be screened before enrolling in coaching classes and admitted based on their proficiency in the subject. It also suggested sorting students into divisions alphabetically and not on the basis of their academic performance, and allowing only students in Class 9 and above to enroll.
On November 20, the Supreme Court refused to hear a petition seeking tighter regulation of such institutes. The public interest litigation was filed by Mumbai-based doctor Aniruddha Narayan Malpani, the Hindustan Times reported.
A division bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna remarked, “Coaching institutes in Kota cannot be blamed. It is parents putting undue pressure on their children in a highly competitive environment which is leading to students ending their lives.” The bench directed the petitioner to approach the Rajasthan High Court as the incidents of suicide mentioned in their petition were largely confined to Kota.
The Rajasthan government has introduced the Rajasthan Coaching Institutes (Control and Regulation) Bill, 2023, and the Rajasthan Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority Bill, 2023, to regulate private coaching institutes but both bills are yet to be passed.
The proposed laws recommend stricter monitoring of charges levied by private coaching centres and the cost of study materials borne by students.