Mass Student Suicides Blamed On Faulty Exam System

A disturbing number of Indian students have died by suicide after the exam results of the Telangana Intermediate Examination results were announced and parents believe faulty exam software is responsible.

Three students took their own lives over 24 hours alone in the southern Indian state after the exam results were published by the Telengana State Board of Intermediate Education (BOIE) on the 18th of this month.

Chief Minister of Telengana, K Chandrasekhar Rao, has made an appeal to the students to not take the extreme step of suicide after a further two students killed themselves over the weekend, taking the death toll to 21.

Parents and students have filed complaints at the BOIE offices with confusion over typically high-achieving students unaccountably being marked as failing certain subjects.

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Approximately one million students took the exams and over a third of those were marked as failing exams, according to Fox News.

One student leader told First Post that a student identified as Naveena "topped her first-year exam, failed in Telugu [a language spoken in Telengana] in the final year. After a re-verification, she got 93 percent in the particular subject."

There have also been reports that students who did not attend the exams were awarded marks.

The Intermediate Examination is recognised as a viable stream for students to go on an study medicine or engineering at university so the pressure is extremely high for them to perform well on the tests.

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A report from a committee inquiry launched by the Telangana government has found that the correct marks were not awarded by the software.

One of the committee members has also alleged that action has not yet been taken against the firm that runs the software, Globarena Technologies Private Limited, because its president has a close relationship with the Chief Minister's son.

The number of suicides in Telangana this year is unprecedented but six student suicides were reported in 2018.

However, an alarming rise in this trend has been witnessed across India since 2016, with one government dataset reporting that 9,474 took their own lives in that year, amounting to more than one every hour.

Extreme parent expectations of academic success are thought to be behind the suicides and education specialists believe there needs to be an overhaul of the education system to combat this profound decline in mental health.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.