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Board exam jitters: Youth helpline rings non-stop
Saturday, March 13, 2010 05:16:59 PM, Azera Rahman, IANS
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New Delhi: Students so depressed that they want to commit suicide, hapless teachers at a loss to comfort pupils, harried parents…Calls have been pouring in at the Delhi government’s Yuva counselling helpline for the past month thanks to the Class 10 and 12 board exams.
“There has been a sharp rise in the number of distress calls that we have been getting from students in need of counselling these days. This is mainly because of the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) board exams that are on,” Manju Kumar, consultant at the Yuva counselling helpline centre in Defence Colony, told IANS.
“Last week we received three calls on one day from students who were so depressed that they wanted to commit suicide. It took us almost three hours of counselling and then calling back after some time to ensure that they were fine and in a better state of mind,” Kumar said.
All three, Kumar said, were students of Class 12 who couldn’t perform well in their business studies exam. Two of them were girls.
“It shocks you at times…the kind of calls that come. Children are so much under strain because of exams; then there is peer pressure and parental pressure. We get 80-100 calls every day and most of them are from students at a loss on how to deal with the pressure of exams,” she said.
While the toll free helpline (1800116888) is functional the whole year around, it’s during the Class 10 and 12 examination period - February and March - and during the admission time in Delhi University - around June - when the calls start pouring in again.
Poonam Gupta, one of the counsellors, said that besides students, teachers and parents also call up for help.
“At times parents call us for advice on how to make their kids study and help them be more competitive. Yesterday I got a call from a parent asking how to make her 10-year-old child study. Even teachers call us, asking us how to help their students deal with examination jitters,” Gupta told IANS.
The helpline, which is functional from 7.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, has just six counsellors working on a rotation basis in morning and afternoon shifts. All counsellors - most of who are women - are professionally trained in counselling.
The helpline was started in 2007 by the Directorate of Education and in 2009 it was brought under the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT).
While most of the calls are from Delhi, Kumar said they get a considerable number of calls from outside the capital too.
“About 10 percent of our calls are from outside Delhi like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. One unifying trend is that most calls are from students of public schools. It may be because students of public schools are more aware,” she said.
“A new feature which we have started now is counselling youngsters with special needs and their parents. The queries could be career-related or more private like how to deal with different situations. In either case, whether it’s youngsters with special needs or otherwise, we always give the callers an option for individual counselling in our centre here and some do come to us,” Kumar said.
Azera Rahman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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