VIJAYAWADA: The State Education Department has constituted a two-member committee with D Chakrapani, retired IAS officer, who is a former Commissioner of the Intermediate Board, and S Ratnakumari, former Vice-Chancellor of Padmavati Mahila University, to recommend measures to be taken to prevent student suicides.
The committee worked for almost one-and-half years and submitted its set of recommendations to the government on May 4, 2017. Express interacted with D Chakrapani regarding his study and the recommendations.
How did you arrive at the recommendations for the prevention of student suicides?
We started working on this project from September 2015 and visited 10 districts in the State, interacting with all stakeholders like students, parents, college managements and members of the civil society. We went to various hostel buildings, residential colleges and day scholar colleges, and came up with a set of recommendations.
What were your findings when you visited hostels and interacted with students?
There is a lot of pressure on the students. They have to take many examinations and the timings for studies are very difficult. The students start their day at 4:30 am and go to sleep at 11 pm. There is hardly any time for lunch or breaks. There is no playtime. The students are in a pathetic condition.
What are your recommendations to the government?
We strongly suggested to the government to have a monitoring mechanism on private colleges. Any type of exhortation would not help. We recommended having monitoring committees consisting of members outside the college management. Also, the committees should sit together once in a month and interact with the students.
Have you suggested any action to be taken by the government if any college does not implement any of the guidelines?
I have clearly mentioned to close down the college within six months if it fails to implement any of the guidelines. The government should not just stop with inspections and it has to take action against the colleges that bypass the rules. Also, we want a suggestion box to be placed on the campus, so that the students can drop their notes of problems and suggestions.
Have you identified the role of parents in the stress facing the students?
The parents are the prime reason for a student to commit suicide. All the suicides take place just for a simple reason and that, too, within a span of two to three hours. If a parent interacts with the child at that particular time and responds positively and affectionately with them, nearly half of the suicides can be prevented.
What is your personal view on the conditions in a private college?
The way they teach and schedule classes is improper and students are facing a lot of stress. Firstly, there is no relaxation and they are not supposed to even go out of the campus. As most of the colleges are on the outskirts of the city, even if they sneak out, they cannot enjoy. With the suffocating atmosphere and congested accommodation and tight schedule of classes, students definitely feel the pressure. This has to be stopped.