Killing In Classroom

An examiner’s wrong evaluation pushed an engineering aspirant to suicide. A re-evaluation posthumously identified the mistake. Syed Asma reports about how peer pressures, systemic failure and parental attitude  kicks students to a cut-throat competition, opening doors for their hara-kiri

Students-protesting-over-death-of-fellow-student

June 18, 2015, the first day of Ramzan, Muslim month of fasting, was the last day of Adnan’s life. For an engineering aspirant, it was a normal day: he went to college, cracked jokes, played pranks, and shared a few laughs. Later that day, he joined his friends for a game of football; a routine he has been keeping for some time. As the day ended Adnan headed for home. On his way back, he came to know that his first semester result is out. Despite being a topper he had secured a mere 28 marks in Physics! In order to clear the semester he had to re-appear for the same paper.

Depressed, Mohammad Adnan Hilal did not return home. His family rang up every single friend of his, but nobody had any idea about his whereabouts. He was last seen on the footbridge, near Rajbagh, the family inferred. They reported to the police and five days later a corpse was fished out in Safakadal. It was Adnan’s.

His family was shocked. Putting up in Nowgam, basically from Dalgate, Adnan was a beloved son, the oldest, in the family

Schooled at Burn Hall, Adnan secured distinction in his matriculation and aspired to be an engineer. He did not want to waste time in attending higher secondary school, so he decided to join Kashmir Government Polytechnic (KGP), Gogji Bagh and later continue as a lateral entry in an engineering college.

In the very first semester, his dream of becoming an engineer seemed shattering to him.

Days after laying him to rest, Adnan’s father, Hilal Ahmed Gilkar, came to know about the reasons of his [Adnan’s] suicide, and filed for re-evaluation of Adnan’s physics paper.  The outcome was shocking. Instead of 28 marks he had secured 48 marks and was topping the semester!

An above average student whose friendly attitude with admired by his classmates, Adnan’s low score was surprising for one and all. “We could never imagine that Adnan will ever score that low and will have to re-appear,” one of his classmates said. Her tears aren’t stopping, though she tried hard. “His result was shocking to us and would have been painful for him [Adnan].”

The “cruel” evaluation process has left Adnan’s parents and fellow students in distress and has compelled them to feel it is not a case of suicide but a “murder”.

In a rare but significant development, the Minister for Information Technology, Technical Education and Youth Services and Sports, Imran Raza Ansari, gave surprising details. He identified the evaluator as Mushtaq Ahmad Tiploo, a lecturer at Government Higher Secondary School, Jawahar Nagar. He said Tiploo is declared “deadwood” and would compulsorily retire from his service.

Government’s candid admission in Adnan’s case was received overwhelmingly. But Gilkar asks:“how a regular physics lecture is allowed to check ‘technical’papers of any engineering subject?”

Adnan is not the only one who bore the brunt of a poor system and State Technical Board is not the only case. Almost all academic institutions are lenient in evaluations that have taken toll on the students for years now.

Shazia shares a similar tale. The only difference is that her parents reached the spot on time and prevented her death.

This 19-years-old, presently pursuing her graduation in a city degree college is a commerce student. Schooled in one of city’s top notch institutions, her life took an ugly turn after her twelfth class results were out.

It was winters and she in excitement called her father, “papa come home early, my results would be declared today. I want to celebrate with you.” Shazia was an above average student and used to secure one of the top five positions in her school.

But when the result was out on the JKBOSE website, her result sheet displayed that she is implicated in an unfair means.

The moment she saw it, in shock she fell on the ground unconscious. What followed is giving her parents sleepless nights.Though her parents assert that they do not pressurize her to score more but still, Shazia’s sensitive nature has dragged her into depression. She presently is on medication and regular consultation of psychiatrists.

Interestingly, the Board authorities had lodged an unfair means case against Shazia in a subject she didn’t appear and on a date she had already finished her examination.

Seeing his daughter’s condition, Mushtaq, Shazia’s father, lodged a complaint and BOSE put his case before the Unfair Means Committee. The Committee’s order signed by Assistant Secretary, UFM, KD, reads:

“The student is ‘Let off’ against S. No. 24 [charges of using unfair means].”

That is it!

No apologies and no regrets.

A new certificate was issued in her name where she had secured distinction – 383 marks of 500.

Though Shazia seems to have resumed her normal life and is pursuing graduation but two years on, she has been taking anti-depressants.

Since then, her parents say, she is suffering from a weird phobia of examinations and results. And now is reluctant to go for further studies.

By the time government takes a serious look into valley’s education system, psychiatrists and psychologists advice the parents to rethink about their roles.

Shaista, a Mental Health Counsellor says that parents should take some time each day and talk to their children, as friends and companions! It is a necessity, she asserts.

At Mariam Wellness Centre, Shaista works in collaboration with Help Foundation. Everyday, she counsels a number of boys and girls who, many times, have restored to extreme self-inflicting measures.

Shaista found a common story. Every morning, kids and their parents leave for the school and offices, respectively. After a tiring day, they come back. The kid is busy watching television or with smart mobile phone and so are the parents.

When do they talk to each other?

“The unnecessary busy schedules and little interaction among family members is leading to depression and suicides,” Shaista insists.

Though they say the rate of committing suicides is not alarming yet. Only 2.1% of the population resort to extreme conditions but the cases of depression are increasing at a significant rate.

Minister Imran Raza Ansari (L) in a press conference while disclosing the name of the evaluator.
Minister Imran Raza Ansari (L) in a press conference while disclosing the name of the evaluator.

The pscho-analysts assert that parents need to induce “a factor of patience” in their children. Over the years, practices and patterns of nurturing a child have changed and thus some negative trends in the society are vivid.

Parents should restrain from inducing and encouraging ego of a child, so that they develop a capacity to accept the failures and loss in life.

“Failures are a part of the life but parents, now-a-days, raise a child in such a way that they cannot accept disappointments and failures,” adds Shaisata. “They [parents] provide them with whatever they ask for, even moons and stars but make them accountable wrongly.” The reason a young boy commits suicides for scoring low is that he can’t see his failure. It hits his ego!

Another major reason seen for rise in number of suicides and depression cases is the parental pressure – a pressure to score high.

Dr Nazir Chaudhary, the Medical Superintendent SMHS hospital says most of the cases of young boys and girls reach to them around the times when results are out. “The reasons are obvious…it is the societal and parental pressure to perform better.”

One such case is of Abid. He studies in a private school and never scored below 98% till his eighth standard. His parents, he says, were never happy with him.

“My teachers always praised me for my intelligence but I never got any appreciation from my parents, instead whenever I got my report card I had to skip my dinner.”

His parents would stop talking to him, he says, or even beat him. What changed him and made him disinterested in studies was the day he scored 99%.

“That day I was really happy, he says in excitement, “I thought papa will appreciate but he didn’t. He threw my report card and asked why is it 99 and not 100%?”

Since then he did not attend his classes regularly and does not show much interest in academics. “I would be bashed if I score 70% and would meet a similar treatment if I score 99%. What is the fun?” says Abid.

From past few years he has been complaining of severe headaches and doctors say it is all because of the stress.

Though Abid was good at studies but every child is not.

Parents need to know every child cannot be a topper! The psychologists say that parents and teachers need to know the capacities of an individual child.

There is a percentage of students in every class who are slow learners, they should not be placed in the competition of above average students.

“Each parent needs his ward to be on the top and score 90% which is not possible,” says Shaista, “The parent’s expectation is taking a toll on their ward’s health which they need to notice.”

(Some names in the story have been changed)

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