The Rajasthan government has issued guidelines for regulating coaching centres in the state including Kota, which bars students below class 9 from taking admission, mandatory screening tests and decide batches alphabetically instead of the rank of students.
The state government had set up a 15-member committee headed by education secretary Bhawani Singh Detha and came up with the regulations for coaching institutes in consultation with stakeholders following a series of suicides in Kota this year. So far, 25 students have died by suicide, the highest since 2015 and 45 contemplated taking their lives, according to the Kota police’s student cell helplines.
To ensure that the coaching institutes follow the regulations, the regulation also provides for setting up monitoring centres in Kota and Sikar, major coaching centers in the state, and legal action against faculty of coaching institutes if they violate the code of conduct.
The guidelines seen by HT say that the monitoring cell will have the relevant data of all the students studying in these coaching institutes through a ‘dedicated integrated portal’ which will be developed by the state government soon.”
On admissions, the committee directed the coaching centers to limit the age of admission of students in coaching centers to class 9. “If any registered student below class 9 wants to leave, the institute should provide them a full refund,” the panel said. New admissions should be on the basis of a mandatory screening test, the panel added.
The guidelines provide for an ‘easy exit and refund policy’ in the middle of the course as experts pointed out extreme pressure on students who struggle to cope with the competitive coaching environment but cannot go back home because their families have spent considerable sums in funding their education.
It also directed the institutes to “decide the batches alphabetically instead of the students’ ranks and not to shuffle and segregate them in the middle of the course based on the performances of the students in the weekly assessments.”
Instructions were also given to not publish the results of the regular tests to the public, instead of which ‘the students who are performing poorly should be counselled individually keeping their marksheets confidential.”
The guidelines have also prohibited the glorification of the toppers by coaching institutes
In 2022, the Rajasthan government also drafted a bill that prohibited private institutes from glorifying the success of toppers, prescribed an aptitude test for admission, and made registration mandatory, but it was never tabled.
The new guidelines also include mandatory gatekeeper training for the teachers, institute managers, other staff, and the wardens of the hostels and paying guest accommodations that would help them to assess the students’ behavioural changes and take preventive measures.
“A trilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be signed with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), the state government, and the people who daily communicate with the students such as coaching institutes, and the hostel management for such training,” the guidelines say.
It also directed the institutes to appoint a sufficient number of professional psychiatrists and counselors who should be ‘recruited by NIMHANS or any psychology expert from a government medical college’ to keep a check on the students’ psychological health regularly.
“Students will also have to be counselled by them regularly. First counselling should be done within 45 days of the admission followed by the second one after 90 days and the third one in 120 days. If any student is found vulnerable in these first three counselling sessions, he/she should be provided with optional career counselling immediately,” the guidelines read.
There are a set of other recommendations for institutes to ease mental pressure on students such as mandatory holidays, facial recognition to prevent faking attendance and a code of conduct for faculty.