Hyderabad: For many, the cause of the accident that killed two students of Narayana Junior College’s ‘Verma 1’ campus in Madhapur was clear: misguided youngsters acting on impulse. Their parents and college seem to think so too. But could there be more to it than that? Could it be that the strict restrictions imposed on them by their college, the lack of facilities at junior colleges, and high stress levels while preparing for competitive exams, fed the students' impulses?
They were “long term” students — those who take a gap year after Intermediate to clear competitive exams — studying for the Neet to become doctors.
For over a decade, corporate junior colleges have been springing up like mushrooms in the Telugu states. Thousands of students have studied in them over the years, and their struggles are well-documented.
Students are squeezed into small rooms for 12-14 hours at a stretch. There are rarely any dining halls where they can stretch their legs. Those who stay in the on-campus hostel are not allowed to leave except on a weekend or two in a month.
Every night, the hostel gates are locked, driving home the point that the students have no agency.
The students are required to take a minimum of two tests every week (Saturday and Monday), with reports sent to their parents.
The ones who do well are taken into special batches — known by myriad names such as Spark and Fast Track. Students in these batches are made to study a few hours more than the rest.
Needless to say, there are no recreational facilities in any of these colleges. Several students studying in these colleges have killed themselves in the past.
The answer to why the nine students did what they did is quite complicated.
Dr Pragya Rashmi, a city-based psychologist, said, “The act of adolescents breaking out of their restraints is a global phenomenon and can be observed across generations. Where there is restraint, there is generally break-out. However, this being said, it is important to note that the education system in intermediate colleges in the Telugu states is an issue.”
Dr Rashmi noted that there were innumerable cases of students being depressed, committing suicide, having physical and mental issues. She said that students in these colleges would be better off if they had facilities which could channel their impulses in a better way.
“When there is cognitive overburdening, it has to be balanced by action, by physical activity. That does not happen in these colleges. This is especially required in adolescents, it is very important. But it doesn't happen since the students have no time,” she said.
Dr Harini Atturu, another city-based psychologist, had similar views. “Stress could definitely be one of the causes of the students’ behaviour. But, they wouldn’t have done what they did if they did not have underlying impulsive behaviour. You can’t blame one reason. There must have been someone in that group who encouraged them to break rules and encouraged their impulses,” she said....