'Preparing for Preparation': Experts Underline Role of Mental Grooming, Aptitude Test Before Sending Kids to Kota

Parents should assess their children’s aptitude through professional help before deciding whether to send them to Kota to prepare for the highly competitive JEE and NEET exams, experts have suggested, as the country’s coaching hub feels the disquiet caused by the suicide of four students within a month.

Grooming students mentally and training them to do their daily chores on their own are also very important part of ”preparing for the preparation” exercise, say educational experts and psychologists who have been keeping a tab on the recent incidents.

Dr Chandra Shekhar Sushil, who is the head of the Department of Psychiatry at New Medical College Hospital here, said instead of pushing children to become doctors and engineers, parents should make them take an aptitude test and then decide what’s best for them.

A majority of parents send their children for coaching there with almost zero preparation and the focus is only on arranging finances and logistics, they noted.

The recent suicide by four coaching students triggered a fresh debate about mental health of the students who are often bogged down in the fast-paced curriculum, family expectations and societal pressures.

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”When a child is in class 5 or 6, parents decide that two years or four years later he or she will be sent to Kota,” Harish Sharma, Principal Counsellor and Student-Behaviour expert at Allen Career Institute, told PTI.

”They start saving up accordingly or start making plans to move to the city well in advance. However, they never try to professionally analyse whether their child actually wants to do that or is even fit for doing that.” There should be no shame in accepting suggestions by the professionals and acting accordingly, he said. ”A decade before, professional help in aptitude testing and decision making wasn’t that easily available but today it is.” He said parents mostly focus on their children getting higher marks without understanding their mental capability.

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”Scoring above 90 per cent in class 10 or 12 cannot be a benchmark to decide whether a child is meant for engineering or medicine. We often find students here who either come under parental pressure or did not have an idea early on about their choice of subjects. This is where professional aptitude tests can help,” he said.

He said making an informed decision early on is important.

”When the child is already here, the ship has kind of sailed. Parents and children often get bothered about the fact that their peers know about the move and if they return without the desired results, they will be looked down upon. If an informed decision can be made early on, it can be really helpful,” he added.

Sharma explained that talking to neighbours and relatives whose children might have gone to Kota is not enough and professional help should be sought at an early stage.

A record 2 lakh students are enrolled in various coaching institutes in Kota this year. At least 14 students studying in coaching centres here have committed suicide this year allegedly under academic stress.

RK Verma, Managing Director and Academic Head, Resonance, another prominent coaching institute in Kota, believes that developing proper communication channels between parents and children well in advance is very important.

”The parents cannot expect that their child will suddenly start communicating with them when he is here. This bond and comfort level has to be developed before. We have also noticed that the kids are completely dependent upon parents till the time they come here,” he said.

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The academic pressure in Kota’s coaching centres are far more than what students would have dealt with earlier, he said.

”The inability to manage the routine chores like arranging your wardrobe, sending clothes for laundry, reaching the mess on time to have meals, waking up themselves, all of these things….the children have not done on their own before coming here,” Verma said.

”So suddenly, the child finds himself lost. So we advise parents to stop keeping their children in their laps at least two years before sending here. So that the only difficulty they find is the dealing with the academic part, which we can resolve here,” he added.

On December 11, suicide by three students within 12 hours rocked the coaching city, prompting the district and coaching authorities to ramp up measure to check it. Another student died by suicide on December 23 allegedly due to academic stress.

Dr Chandra Shekhar Sushil, who is the head of the Department of Psychiatry at New Medical College Hospital here, said, ”I do not believe coaching institutes have much of a role in student suicides. We have to admit that JEE and NEET are very tough exams and hence the teaching and learning is also supposed to be of the same level.” ”However, taking an aptitude test before sending students to Kota is very important. It is equally important that some sort of counselling and grooming is done at least two years before the child comes to Kota as majority of these kids have never stayed away from home before,” Sushil added.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)