23 teenagers killed themselves for failing school-leaving exams

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23 teenagers killed themselves for failing school-leaving exams teenagers

Higher education in India is extremely competitive and school-leaving exams are prerequisite for securing admission in good universities

Students and parents protested at the announcement of the results believed to be technically flawed

Not less than 23 teenagers in Telangana State, Southern India have committed suicide ever since their school-leaving exam results were announced in April.

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Thota Vennela was one of the teenagers who killed herself for failing the exam. On the day she found out that she had failed her 12th class (school leaving) exams, she took poison and  died hours later in a hospital.

Her mother, Sunita Thota’s consoling words to her that she could apply for re-evaluation or retake the exams fell on deaf ears. The report had it that before she took the poison she had keep repeating, ‘’How could I fail?’’ and even on the hospital bed before she passed out, she kept saying, ‘’I should have passed’’

Thota Vennela was one of more than 320,000 students in Telangana who failed the school-leaving exams. All of the candidates were enrolled in different schools that teach the same syllabus set by the state education board even though some schools also teach syllabuses set by a national education board.

Higher education in India is extremely competitive and school-leaving exams are prerequisite for securing admission in good universities. Passing the exams is considered as a ticket to a well-paying job and a bright future. Students who fail their school-leaving exams may still not secure admission in a top university even though they pass the independent admission tests conducted by the universities.

Students and parents who were shocked protested on the days following the announcement of the exam results alleging errors in marking and demanded remarking of the exam scripts.

As protests intensified, suicides by students who had failed the exams were reported from across the state.

A state high court order to the state education board to re-mark the answers of all those who had failed overturned the results of 1,137 of the students who earlier failed by declaring them successful. A student who had scored zero marks in a subject at first, ended up scoring 99 when her answers were re-marked.

The government had outsourced the conduct of the exams to a private software company, Globarena Technology since 2017 who are responsible for processing the final scores and announcing results.

The state education board, which contracted the job to Globarena, had said the teenagers committed suicides due to some other reasons outside the technical and result processing errors of the exams.