19 Students Commit Suicide Following Grading Fiasco in Telangana
In the past week, 19 students have committed suicide after failing to clear their intermediate examinations in Telangana. The Telangana Board of Intermediate Education, the TBIE, announced that of the 974,000 students that took the exams, over 300,000 students failed the exam.
In an effort to expedite the evaluation process, the TBIE utilized a grading software which incorrectly graded the exams. Results for the exams for grades 11 and 12 were released last Thursday, on April 18.
One student, Umesh Chandra, who also failed his intermediate exam has disappeared since the results were announced. His family has since filed a missing person report with the state police.
“I felt extremely unhappy and deeply hurt over such incidents. Suicides of students are most unfortunate. Intermediate education is not the whole life,” expressed Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao. “Failing in examination does not amount to failing in life. Life is precious. There will be plenty of opportunities.”
The TBIE has received a wave of intense backlash for their mishandling of the situation by opposition parties and student activist groups. The Board has announced that they will rectify their mistake and re-evaluate all exams. Students who failed the exam will go through the re-verification process free of charge, while students who passed will have to pay the standard fee.
Telangana’s High Court has ordered the state government and TBIE to provide a concrete timeline of the exam re-evaluation process by April 29. A three-member committee has been tasked with assessing how the exams were conducted and graded. They will also be investigating the IT company hired for the evaluation process.
Student suicide rates in the twin Telugu states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, are on the rise, according to P. Madhusudhan Reddy, the president of Government Inter Colleges Association in Telangana. More than 100 junior college students commit suicide between the two states, every year.
Academic competition is increasingly fierce in the two states as both still follow a ranking-based academic system.
Between the years 2010 and 2015, 39,775 students committed suicide in India. Based on data from the National Crime Records Bureau, a student kills themselves every hour. According to psychiatrist Dr. Virinchi Sharma, a majority of student suicides are due to factors such as anxiety and depression.
“It could result from difficulty in coping with academics, unrealistic expectations and pressure from parents and lack of support from peers,” explained Dr. Sharma.
In a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, NIHMANS, researchers found that 11 percent of college students in India have attempted suicide. The study also concluded that 7 to 8 percent of high school students have attempted to commit suicide.
"Counselling should be made mandatory before the examinations and after results are declared," said Rajendra Prasad, chief coordinator of the non-profit M. Venkatarangaiya Foundation.
Student groups and parents have continued to protest against the TBIE throughout the week. Congress has asked Rao to suspend A. Ashok, the secretary of the board of education. The party has also demanded that 250,000 rupees be given to the families of students who have committed suicide.