New Delhi: The draft National Education Policy (NEP), which has been in the pipeline for a long time now, has proposed to make counselling of parents mandatory so that students have a stress-free environment at home, ThePrint has learnt.
Mental stress is one of the most common factors behind student suicide.
According to a written reply of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to a question in the Lok Sabha on 2 March, nearly 10,000 students have committed suicide every year between 2016 and 2018, with the highest number registered in Maharashtra.
An official in the HRD ministry, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint: “Indian parents are not really nice when it comes to dealing with their children.”
So, the NEP will focus on improving parenting skills, he added.
According to the NEP draft, seen by ThePrint, only parents of children studying at the primary level will be counselled.
Parents of the children taking primary education will be counselled and the plan is to formalise counselling for such parents and make them understand how to treat their kids, the official said.
“Children are not taken seriously in India. They are burdened with studies and due to pressure, they start mugging up. When they do not perform as per the expectations of their parents, they are beaten up,” the official said, adding the focus of the NEP is to change this.
The HRD has taken into consideration the fact that if students are beaten up for bad performance in exams, it takes a toll on their mental health, he said.
“So the intention behind counselling parents is to make them aware of such things,” the official added.
“The focus will be to make parents understand that children are equal to them and cannot be treated in an inferior manner because of their age,” he said.
‘Will be different from parent-teacher meetings’
Asked whether it will be something like parent-teacher meetings, the official said the modalities are still being worked out, but it will be different from parent-teacher meetings.
When asked why counselling is just restricted to primary level, the HRD ministry official said, if the parents of children at the primary level are counselled, then the base will be strengthened.
“After primary level, both the children and the parents will mature. Once the base is fixed, it will strengthen the rest of the things,” the official added.
However, former director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) J.S. Rajput said the government needs to fix the condition of primary education with regard to infrastructure and number of teachers to solve these problems.
“Since independence, the governments did not pay heed to primary education,” he said, adding that the current situation of primary education is at its worst.
“The condition of primary education is responsible for parents not coming to schools to interact with teachers. The role of parents is important, but the policy should focus on fixing the condition of primary schools first,” Rajput said.
Student suicide a menace
Students taking lives in India due to exam pressure or results is extremely common.
In the last five years, 443 students have committed suicide in Delhi itself, and exam stress was one of the reasons.
In August last year, a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Supreme Court, requesting for better mental healthcare facilities across the country.
The Narendra Modi government also seems to be taking the matter seriously as the PM has been holding ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ since the last three years.
As part of the initiative, the prime minister talks to students about various ways to relieve stress before examination.
In the winter session of the Parliament in December last year, the HRD ministry in reply to a question had said at least 60 IIT and IIM students have committed suicide in the last five years. The maximum number of deaths were reported from IIT, Guwahati.
Taking all these into account, the HRD ministry is hopeful that the formalisation of counselling of parents right at the primary level might change things for the better, the official said.
Buzz around NEP implementation
The draft NEP could be implemented before the start of the next academic session, which is in April, said a second ministry official.
This official told ThePrint that it has already been delayed enough and there is apprehension that if it is not implemented now, it will get delayed for quite a while.
The HRD ministry had given a presentation to the prime minister last week on the NEP, the official said, adding that PM Modi has been closely watching the developments.
Another ministry official said the NEP could be sent to the cabinet in the coming days for the final approval.
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