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“I Got Out Of Kota With Minimal Damage, But Not Everyone Is As Lucky”

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Trigger Warning: suicide

Kota, India’s coaching hub, is a city located in Rajasthan, is in news for the last few years. Two major reasons behind these are the production of toppers in various competitive exams like IIT-JEE, NEET, etc. and the other being the suicide of students due to exams and academic pressure.

I had also spent a year in Kota preparing for IIT-JEE and witnessed the suicide of one of my classmates. We will come to these later. Kota had a good environment for studious students as well as for them who are good at science but for average or below-average students. Kota may not be the same place for toppers.

In the last few years, nearly all toppers of various competitive exams as mentioned above are from Kota. Nowadays, nearly 2 lakh students are enrolled in various courses in Kota for competitive exams and about only 10% (which is less than the national level of 13%) of them cleared their respective exams with satisfactory marks in previous years, according to a report by economics times. Let us come to my side of the story.

Students returning from coaching test in IL Colony, Kota. (Photo provided by author)

I took admission in Allen, Kota in May 2019 in the LEADER Course and had to submit a sum of ₹1,35000 as admission fee. After a few days of admission, I started feeling something negative about the place as there is a lot of study pressure there.

I started thinking of canceling my admission and refunding my money. But, after discussing it with my parents and friends, I withdrew the idea started focusing on my studies. Allen holds regular tests to check the preparation of their students and I had performed satisfactorily in a few of the initial tests.

After a few days, due to some personal and emotional issues, I started losing my concentration on studies and began bunking classes. Because of this, I started to score worse in my tests and it affected me adversely.

But after nearly three months, due to the support of my friends, I started feeling better about my emotional health and again started to focus on my studies. But, in the past three months, I had made enough mistakes and it made me score poorly in my first JEE-Main exam.

Just after that, I heard about one of my classmates dying by suicide. This shocked me, my friends, as well as my parents, when they found out through national media. Just a few days later, I heard about a student from Bangalore who had stopped attending classes and had not bathed for months due to a mental illness she was battling, which was caused by study pressure as well as loneliness here in Kota.

I remember the number of calls I received from my parents each day, who continuously told me to not to worry about studying and giving exams. They would assure me, saying that whatever the result would be, they are and will always be with me.

However, I got just fine (not good neither satisfactory) marks in my second attempt of JEE-Main but was unable to clear the JEE-Advance. I was devastated.

But due to the continuous support of my parents, I managed to come out of it and take admission in a government university in my state.

Let us take a moment to think about the situation of those middle-class students who were not able to clear the JEE, but had invested a lot of money in it,  the parents whose child died by suicide due to exams pressure, about those whose mental health took a toll due to the high-pressure environment of exams.

It’s not just about Kota, it’s about the environment of our country when it comes to various competitive exams. A new Kota is rising in every big city in the country , yet all we need is to understand what is going on in the minds of those students who are going to appear in competitive exams and had to join coaching for the same.

Youths are the creator of the future and without a healthy creator, we will never be able to make a good and sustainable future. The authorities as well as parents, both need to understand the interest of the children and then decide whether they should be sent to Kota (or to anywhere for competitive exams) or not, because every child is not the same.

We, as responsible citizens in other spheres, are also responsible for the harmonious and healthy growth of our future generations and each of us should take measures to ensure the same at our level.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Ramesh Sharma for India Today Group via Getty Images.
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Find out more about her campaign here.

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