Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya suicides: HRD ministry sets up panel, asks for two counsellors in each school

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New Delhi | Updated: January 4, 2019 10:57:43 AM

In 2016, the NVS shot off an 11-page circular, listing out ways to spot suicidal tendencies and prevent suicides on campus. The circular states that a JNV cannot escape responsibility if the suicide takes place within the school premises.

The investigation also revealed that there are no trained counsellors and teachers are overburdened to look after the welfare of students. (Photo Source: Indian Express)

The HRD Ministry on Thursday set up a task force to look into the circumstances leading to suicides in government-run Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas. The task force will be headed by psychiatrist Jitendra Nagpal.

The ministry has also sought approval of the Department of Expenditure for engaging two full-time counsellors, one male and one female, in each of the 630 JNVs.

Data furnished under an RTI application filed by The Indian Express has revealed that Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas have seen close to 50 suicides by students inside campus in five years. It has also been revealed that there are no trained counsellors, and teachers are overburdened to look after the welfare of students.

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On January 1, National Human Rights Commission headed by former Chief Justice of India H L Dattu, issued a notice to the school education secretary in the HRD Ministry seeking a response within six weeks. The ministry has been directed to submit its response on dedicated staff to ensure students are not left alone in their rooms; whether trained counsellors are available on campus; and whether students have access to emergency assistance through counselling over the telephone and a suicide hotline service.

On Thursday the matter was raised in Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour by Congress MP Viplove Thakur. She said that the schools were opened to promote national integration. But now the situation has come to such a pass that students “are forced to commit suicide.” This is really a very serious problem. She also added that no effort was made to understand that what has led to this situation. Also, no effort is being made to understand the backgrounds of these children, not even teachers and principals are trying to do it.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar responded to Thakur’s concerns and informed Parliament that his Ministry has set up a committee to look into the matter. He added needed recommendations will be considered after the committee submits its report.

According to the data, out of the 49 suicides between the years 2013 and 2017, half were by tribal students and Dalit and a majority of them were boys. All, except seven, were suicides by hanging.

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