The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report that 49 students of the residential Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) committed suicide at campus in five years from 2013 to 2017.
"Half of them were Dalit and Tribal students, and a majority of them were boys. Reportedly, all, except seven, were suicides by hanging, and the bodies were discovered either by classmates or members of the school staff. The JNVs are reported to be the central government's pace-setting residential schools for the talented children from rural India," the NHRC said in its release.
The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, cannot be ignored or overlooked as this reported pattern of suicides by so many students in JNVs might still increase, if not checked in time with appropriate measures.
Expressing serious concern over the report, the commission issued a notice to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Human Resource Development and called for certain information within six weeks.
The commission sought to know whether trained counselors were available in the campus to whom the adolescent students could open up and talk about their feelings.
It also asked if there was a dedicated staff to ensure that the children were not left alone in the rooms.
NHRC also asked whether emergency assistance through telephone counseling and suicide hotline services were available to the students.
The Commission has further observed that the intelligent students with a rural background are entrusted to the care of JNVs. They are the strength and future of this country. The proportion of the suicides of the students from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities is also a matter of concern for the society.
"Teenagers may often get confused and develop a feeling of being isolated. It is also a matter of fact, that many suicides are committed by the people, who are depressed and are not able to cope up with stress. As per the medical science, the suicidal tendencies don't just appear out of the blue, people usually display a number of warning signs. If trained counselors are available, behavioral changes, suicidal tendencies and depression among the students can be spotted in time and with the guidance and counseling of counselors, suicides can be controlled," the NHRC said.
According to the media report, carried on the December 24, 2018, the JNVs, which were started in 1985-86, have become a passport out of poverty for thousands of underprivileged children. Since 2012, these schools have consistently recorded a pass percentage of over 99 per cent in Class 10 and over 95 per cent in Class 12, which is far better than private schools and CBSE's national average.
The news report revealed that according to norms, at least 75 per cent of the seats in these schools are set aside for rural children. Hence, a JNV is never sanctioned for a district with 100 per cent urban population.
A Navodaya Vidyalaya starts from Class 6 and goes up to Class 12. All admissions in Class 6 are done through a merit test. The popularity of JNVs is evident from the fact that less than 3 per cent of the candidates appearing for the entrance test every year make the cut.
The news report also revealed that 41 out of 46 JNVs are facing a serious challenge. The report further revealed that there are 635 JNVs with 2.8 lakh students. A total of 2.53 lakh students in the age group of nine to 19 were enrolled across roughly 600 JNVs for the year 2017. That same year, the number of suicides touched 14. The news report revealed that the suicide rate that is per population of 1,00,000 at JNVs for 2017 works out to 5.5.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)