With an aim to prevent the alarming rate of increase in stress-related suicides by students, the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) has launched the state-wide “suicide prevention campaign”. However, it lacks any official data on such cases of suicides. The education department has claimed that the campaign was launched as the number of suicides was on rise. However, the introduction of grading and semester systems in Classes IX till XII, with the main objective of reducing stress and anxiety among students, has proved to be futile.
The campaign, launched by Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on October 5 from Gandhinagar with a live telecast to all government schools across the state through Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG), has had two sessions till now and is said to be a continuous programme till the annual examinations in March 2017.
When contacted, the GSHSEB chairman A J Shah admitted that the board didn’t have any data to prove that the number of suicide cases by students in the state was on the rise. “Now since this question has been raised, we realise that the board should have such information for our reference. Since we are conducting a campaign, this data will certainly help the education department analyse this information,” he said.
The deputy chairman of the board also seemed to be unaware of any figures to support the department’s premise of rise in suicides by the students. “The board has tried to collect this information, but could not. The education department was also contacted for this, but it could not be accessed,” said GSHSEB deputy chairman R R Thakkar.
Apart from running a helpline to enable students to de-stress, the education department has also roped in several non-government organisations for the campaign. However, senior education officials have said that the suicide cases among students due to examination-related stress have increased manifold in the recent years. This was witnessed despite the fact that the grading and semester systems were introduced in Classes XI and XII Science stream in order to relieve students from the stress and anxiety in the year 2011-12.
“After five years, the state government realised that the semester system was doing more harm than good to students. Students had to simultaneously face examination-related stress twice a year, prepare for the examinations throughout the year and cope up with the pressure to clear entrance examination. So, they had to scrap it and get back to the old annual system,” said a senior education official.
During the last two “suicide prevention programme” sessions conducted in the last two weeks, a team of counsellors and psychologists addressed the issue in context to all possible factors.