Sixteen-year-old Moin Khan, a class 10 student in a private school, was caught copying in an exam. He later entered a building and jumped to death from the 14th floor in Bengaluru on November 8, 2022.
* Scolded for copying, another class 10 student Amrutha ended her life in Bengaluru on November 14, 2022. Her parents protested in front of the school with the girl’s body but the principal defended the teacher.
* A first year B.Com. student in a reputed college marked 78 per cent attendance. Just for one per cent less, the management attacked her and refused to let her give the exam in Bengaluru.
These are some recent incidents which took place in the country’s educational hub Bengaluru. Karnataka stands fifth in the country in the number of suicides. The state is fifth after Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal according to official statistics. It recorded 13,056 suicide cases in 2021.
Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Belagavi have emerged as centres of excellence in education in the state. Thousands of students from more than 60 countries come to Karnataka to pursue their studies. However, experts suggest rejigging the education system. Some suggest that it is more to do with the upbringing of children to face difficult situations.
Academician Dr Niranjan Aradhya V.P, states that right from the beginning students are trained for writing exams, rather than imparted education. This is creating a lot of stress.
These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. Only people working in the field can understand the mental stress, agony and anxiety that the children are passing through, he says. The government should seriously think of abolishing entrance exams and evolve a better method, he recommends.
He says that entrance examinations are conducted for almost everything. The government is proposing examinations for class five and class eight, on which a circular has been issued by the Karnataka government. We opposed it. Their understanding of education and learning is completely wrong, he adds.
“It’s not on a good premise because they think education is conducting examinations, putting pressure on students. Everything is decided based on the marks which is a completely wrong premise,” he states.
The whole world is moving in the opposite direction on the education front. “If you look at UNESCO, it talks about four pillars of education. Any education system should basically focus on four pillars. The first pillar of education is to know things.”
“That you must understand, understand properly in a socio, political and economic context. That is the way they build knowledge. Whether it is a scholastic or non-scholastic subject, you need to deepen your understanding.
“It’s not just memorizing, rote learning and based on it writing exams. The second part is learning to do. Unless you apply what you have learnt in a social context, it doesn’t make any sense.
“The third aspect they talk about is that learning is basically for co-existence and living together. You must develop the values of respecting each other, tolerance, and extending co-operation.
“Last they talk about is the education ‘to be’. That means, you should understand your own self. Basically it talks about ethical values of a human being, you should be honest. This is the essence of education. In India, if you look at the policies we are moving in a different direction altogether,” Aradhya explains.
“For every course, they have introduced entrance exams. If you want to go for under graduation you need to write an exam, if you want to go for law, you need to take entrance exams.
“Class 12, if you don’t consider those marks for admission, then it’s better we convert all these colleges into coaching centres,” he says.
Why does the central government have to conduct examinations for Karnataka? It is a federal state. My understanding of all these courses are different. The medical course is being run not to produce doctors but for a business, he opines.
A simple aptitude test could be conducted instead of NEET, Aradhya states.
Satish Bejjihally, Syndicate Member, Bengaluru City University and Principal of Vidya Sanskar Institute of Science Commerce and Management, says that we have to understand that every child has strengths like how each animal has its own strengths and weaknesses.
The parents need to understand that they can’t push the child to a certain course, he opines.
D. Shashikumar, General Secretary of the Karnataka Association of Management Schools, says that in the larger picture there is no stress. But the children are sensitized to become stressed.
He explains that most children between five and eight years have vast capacity and capabilities. At this stage if proper care is given to handle everything no pressure gets to the child in the later stages.
Shashikumar says if a child is brought up without any exposure to difficulties, hardships of life, grief, sorrow and happiness, he or she naturally becomes weak.
“First five years, 85 per cent of the brain gets evolved. Today’s children, how they are evolving is a question. Comprehensive growth depends on development of nerves in the brain. The children will learn to take pain if trained. Earlier if a thorn got stuck in the leg children would pluck it out and continue playing. Now, they become unconscious. We are making our children too sensitive,” he says.
The brain has the capacity to learn 40 languages, one dozen university education certificates could be obtained, and one complete set of encyclopaedias could be stored. The brain has the capacity and present stress is nothing, Shashikumar maintains.
It is not the system’s pressure which is leading to suicides. It is the depression of a child. We are not moulding children to take pressure, failing to make the brain take healthy pressure. If they are groomed in a hyper sensitive environment and then expected to take heavy pressure, how is it possible? Shashikumar asks.
Comparatively suicidal tendencies are less in Karnataka. Suicidal tendencies crop up in a troubled love affair, even if the triggering point is education. But accumulated pressure is different. It is not instant. If a television remote is not given and the child ends his life, it is not the fault of the remote. It is the failure of the mind which has developed such depression. It’s about infusing power to sustain insults and pain, he concludes.