The Rajasthan government is set to enact a law establishing a regulatory authority to keep tabs on private educational institutes including coaching centres, ensuring that they open counselling cells, end glorification of toppers and deal with the kind of stress that possibly led to three students committing suicide recently.
The draft law proposes aptitude tests for students before they join a coaching centre for competitive exams, and a helpline if they find that they cannot face the stress.
The Rajasthan Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Bill - 2022, which has been in the making since 2020, is likely to be introduced in the next session of the state assembly.
It covers schools, colleges as well as centres, like in coaching hub Kota, that prepare students for competitive exams. Recently, three students studying at a Kota centre committed suicide, allegedly because they could not cope up with the pressure of studies there.
The draft bill also seeks to regulate tuition fees, annual fee hikes, cost of study material and other charges levied by private institutions, including tuition centres.
The authority, headed by a prominent academician as chairperson, shall also make provisions to fix study hours, days off and the gap between tests to avoid stress on students. The bill proposes heft penalties -- up to Rs 5 crore for repeat offenders.
The draft bill mentions setting up a career counselling cell to inform students about job options.
The regulatory authority will also take measures to discourage bogus advertising and glorification of toppers to prevent other students from developing a sense of inferiority, the draft says.
It will also deal with false claims by coaching centres about their students succeeding in competitive exams. In order to ensure mental as well as physical well-being of the students in educational institutions, the Authority shall frame regulations for regular counselling, recreation and safety of the students. It will mandate establishing of a counselling and mentoring cell in every institute, it says.
Specific directions shall be issued for ensuring safety of girl students. There will also be provisions for differently abled students, teachers and non-teaching staff in private educational institutions, it said.
The draft says there will a mandatory aptitude test for students before they join a coaching centre and its findings shall be shared with their parents. The Authority shall mandate setting up a 24x7 helpline for students and parents.
Private institutions would pay a maximum penalty of Rs 1 crore if they violate provisions of the proposed law. The fine could increase up to Rs 5 crore for a repeat violation.
The bill seeks mandatory registration of all coaching institutes with the government and annual auditing of their accounts.
Last month, the state government issued guidelines to provide mental support and security to students studying at coaching institutes.
The guidelines suggested telling students about career options if they fail entrance examinations for IITs and medical institutes. They also had provisions for refund in case a student quits an institute, an official had said then.
The guidelines also suggested an online portal to lodge complaints. Over two lakh students from across the country are taking tuitions in Kota for entering medical and engineering colleges, staying in about 3,500 hostels and as paying guests elsewhere in the city.
Three of them allegedly committed suicide about a week back.
Ankush Anand (18), a NEET aspirant and resident of Bihar's Supaul district, and Ujjwal Kumar (17), a JEE aspirant from Gaya district, were found hanging from the ceiling fans in their rooms at the same house on Monday morning.
The third victim, Pranav Verma (17), a NEET aspirant from Madhya Pradesh's Shivpuri district, allegedly consumed some poisonous substance at his hostel late Sunday night, police said. Initial inquiries revealed that Anand and Kumar were falling behind in studies at their coaching centre
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