| (Figures include city and
Number of examinees (Madhyamik, HS, ICSE and ISC): 1.1 million (approx)
Number of suicides by students in a year: 20 (average in past five years)
Number of cases of students suffering from exam-related stress every year: 15 cases per school (approx)
ICSE and ISC schools in the state: 200+
Madhyamik and HS schools: 7,500+
• Higher Secondary (HS) examinee Sabyasachi Das of Cossipore killed himself last month.
• Sushmita Das of South 24-Parganas, a candidate for Madhyamik 2004, committed suicide early last month, on the day of her geography exam.
• Samir Mondal, another Madhyamik examinee, took his life on March 9 after appearing for his English paper.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government on Monday urged schools to adopt measures to counter the tragic trend of student suicide, triggered largely by examination pressure.
“We are alarmed at this growing trend of suicides by examinees. Teachers from both English and Bengali-medium schools must alert the guardians immediately if they find any child showing a behavioural abnormality,” school education minister Kanti Biswas said on Monday.
The various teachers’ bodies have been asked to ensure an increased exchange of ideas and information between teachers and students, Biswas added.
The authorities of schools controlled by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations as well as West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) have decided to join hands in devising ways to prevent the growing trend of suicides by children under exam pressure. They have also decided to work out a strategy to enable their students handle stress better.
“Researches by various organisations have shown that too much pressure from guardians is one of the main reasons of depression among students. Attempts to commit suicide by children suffering from this (exam-related) stress are increasing. We have decided to organise workshops and seminars where guardians will have to participate,” said C.R. Gasper, principal of St Augustine’s Day School and general secretary of the Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools.
“We will involve child psychologists and will also take up the matter related to this disturbing trend at the meeting of the association,” he added.
Parents have a key role to play if a child is to handle the stress of studies and the pressure of examinations better, said some principals.
The authorities of some city schools have identified a few common steps that can be taken to tackle exam pressure. “We have started organising counselling sessions on campus and whenever we identify anything abnormal in a student, parents will be alerted,” said Gilian D’Costa Hart, principal of Welland Gouldsmith School.
Heads of some prominent WBBSE schools have, meanwhile, approached the government to engage at least one counsellor for a group of schools.
“We (headmasters of schools) are alarmed at the way more and more students are falling victim to pressure. We will soon meet the government and request it to provide necessary help to us,” said Prabhat Kumar Chattopadhay, headmaster of Hare School.