To reduce stress among coaching aspirants, Kota Collector resorts to Peer Group Evaluation

After making headlines for issuing guidelines in the past to coaching institutes and the hostels of Kota for reducing stress-related conditions among students, Kota District Collector, Dr Ravi Kumar Surpur has resorted to ‘Peer Group Evaluation’ as a new remedy for stress among coaching aspirants in Kota.

Surpur has issued new instructions to the coaching institutes of Kota where students are preparing for engineering and medical entrance examinations. As part of this new initiative, Students will form random groups of 15-20 students in every class and such a group would be given a particular name/ identity (Alphabet/Number/ Name or Combination).

‘Peer Group Activity’ would start with the introduction of every member of the group to rest of the group members with the aim of familiarising each other. This group will be active for the duration of the course as it is important for the members to get to know each other.

Every member will be rated in every meeting by the rest of the group members on his / her general disposition towards life on parameters including Cheerful, Friendly, Silent, Talkative, Happy, Studious, Serious, Emotional, Withdrawn, etc. The template for the this will be developed and institutions will have operational autonomy for customising the Peer Evalauation Format.

Surpur said “This is not a tool to rate academic performance or IQ of the child in any manner, but is more towards looking at his or her Life / Happiness Quotient. The group will re-assemble at periodic intervals of around 10-15 days where they will talk to each other. Every member will talk about what he / she went through in the intervening period between the two meetings of the group.” Based on the response of every member, the rest of the group members shall evaluate and rate him/her, which can be a fundamental tool to identifying variant/ deviant behaviours and traits that merit urgent attention and help in terms of counselling and other services. Considering the fact that the group members already have a fair idea about the member, any sudden variation would be easily noticeable by at least a few, if not all members of the group.

Students must be encouraged for active participation in the group activity and must be initially guided and patronised by group counsellors who could be teachers, counsellors and other persons who fully understand the implications and outcome of this endeavour.

Feedback of the group on various interventions like yoga, meditation sessions, fun-day activity, music, motivational speeches, etc can be easily elicited in the group activity that would serve as fuel for devising and modulating existing interventions.

Issues like eve-teasing, exploitation, poor service conditions, breach of contract, etc too may come up during such interactions which would be analysed, and institutions will start corrective action by getting in touch with concerned authorities as well as at their own level.

Chronic absenteeism from class, parental hyper expectations, lack of interest, poor concentration, poor attention, erratic sleep habits, mobile phone over-indulgence, low self-esteem, performance-related emotions, negative tendencies, etc would be encouraged for discussion under guidance of patrons of the group initially so that creative outcome can be expected and on the basis of identification of deviant traits in a child, attention can be devoted at the appropriate juncture.

It needs to be clearly understood that group activity is being postulated to give children an enabling platform to vent their feelings, expressions and emotions and also to clearly identify children in distress who are in need of help & attention.

Surpur’s new endeavour has come at a time when Kota has witnessed fresh spate of coaching student suicides in the recent past and a total of 16 student suicides this year so far.

In the last one year, Surpur has also written separate letters to the coaching students and their parents in which while he had appealed to the students to take life in a positive stride, whereas he had asked parents to not create parental pressure on their wards. On the initiative of Surpur, fun day named recreational activity was also organized in coaching institutes of Kota for coaching aspirants.