The guardians of the pupils at a Calcutta school where a Class X girl committed suicide on Friday have demanded more interactions between counsellors and children and the involvement of parents in the process to better equip the young ones to handle stress.
The guardians of the students of the GD Birla Centre for Education at Regent Park held a silent march on Sunday in memory of Krittika Paul, the Class X student who is believed to have suffocated herself to death. The guardians said they wanted to meet the school authorities to seek more frequent counselling sessions to identify any signs of pressure being felt by students and to address any problems arising out of such stress.
Krittika was said to have been suffering from performance-related stress and to not have slept for the three previous nights.
The guardians who marched on Sunday want to spread awareness about the need for parents to undergo counselling too.
The march was held under the banner of the GD Birla Centre for Education Parents’ Association, a registered forum constituted after an alleged sexual assault on a four-year-old child in the school in December 2017.
Sanjay Bhattacharya, spokesperson for the association, said it would write to the school on Monday seeking an immediate meeting with its representatives on the need to identify pupils suffering from stress and counsel them.
“The tragic death of Krittika made us feel the need to take care of the children’s mental health. Apart from the parents, the school authorities have a responsibility too. We want to meet the school authorities at the earliest,” Bhattacharya said.
“We have not had any discussion with the school authorities on mental health issues, which we now realise is very important.”
Sources said the GD Birla Centre for Education had three counsellors who work with students in both the junior and senior sections.
A student is taken to an in-house counsellor whenever she shows signs of attention deficiency in class, behaved rudely with peers or a sudden drop in academic performance is noticed, a school official said.
Farishta Dastur Mukherji, a counsellor of Calcutta International School, said it was imperative to have communications between guardians and the school because it can no longer be dealt with only by the school.
“If the school becomes more open to addressing the problem by interacting with the guardians’ forum, it will be better. At times, parental pressure can put a child under strain. Through frequent interactions, these issues can be resolved,” Dastur Mukherji said.
She said GD Birla Centre for Education, once it opens on Monday after the weekend break, should immediately think of addressing the trauma that Krittika’s friends who used to sit beside her must be going through. “The school must reach out to them and get them counselled and speak to their parents,” Dastur Mukherji said.
The GD Birla Centre for Education Parents’ Association said it would write to Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, the chairperson of the West Bengal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, urging her to speak to school authorities about addressing mental health-related issues in consultation with the parents.
Chatterjee Chakraborti had visited the school on Saturday to examine the reasons that drove Krittika to commit suicide.
Chatterjee Chakraborti said that during her visit on Saturday, she told the two vice-principals that they should meet the guardians’ forum over issues such as stress.
“I have told the school authorities they must recognise the guardians’ forum. It is not about meeting one or two guardians individually. If the forum is given an audience, issues like metal health can be discussed in great detail. This could help in coming up with more effective measures,” Chatterjee Chakraborti said.
GD Birla Centre principal Sharmila Nath could not be contacted for comment.