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Prepare Better

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After the recent spate of suicides in Kota among students of the city’s coaching institutes, the demand has arisen, once again, for measures to be taken on preventing such incidents. While stricter regulations, registration of such institutes and closer monitoring of students in hostels, etc., have been suggested, the most effective would be career counseling by experts in schools for students and parents from class nine onwards. This should include psychological preparation for competitive examinations. This would ensure they understand well the various difficulties and how to manage them.

It has also been repeatedly pointed out that, unlike the past, there are many lucrative and interesting career paths available to youngsters beyond engineering and medicine that can more than satisfy their aspirations. Even if they do wish to pursue a career in engineering, while seats may be limited in the absolute top-notch institutions, there are still many excellent colleges they can get admission in without much bother. Importantly, their fellow students would be quite similar to them, with the same interests and abilities. So, they would not stick out as outliers as those who may, somehow, make it to an IIT but then feel excluded. This is one of the major difficulties faced by students who benefit from reservations.

The counseling in schools should carefully present before parents and students the need to identify inclination, talent and passion. Each student needs to be prescribed a specific approach to preparing for life, including choice of career and the path to achieving it. They should be explained the difficulties, the possible setbacks, how to cope with them, the next steps available, the back-up plan, etc. Given the right approach, even students with modest academic scores can find their rightful place.

Parents have to be shown how to balance their ambitions for their children, the resources available, the institutions most suitable to them, the appropriate type of preparation – coaching is by no means mandatory to do well in the competitive exams. Parents and children can be part of discussion groups in schools, where common concerns and strategies can be discussed in the context of local conditions.

As analysts have pointed out, the central and state governments can also work on raising the overall quality of education provided by colleges other than the elite ones. Also, increasing the number of medical seats available should be a priority, not just because of students’ interests, but also society’s need for many more doctors. The number of suicides would definitely come down.