New guidelines for hostels after suicides at IIT coaching centres

New Delhi: The increasing number of suicide cases of IIT aspirants has pushed the apex body for child rights to prepare draft guidelines for hostels for minors.

As per the draft rules prepared by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), all hostels will have to be mandatorily registered with a competent authority.

The proposed guidelines apply to coaching institutes, private and government schools, madrassas and ‘ashram shalas’ or schools for tribal children.

A candidate appointed as a hostel superintendent will have to produce an affidavit that he or she has never been convicted under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation amendment) Act 2016, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012.

The person holding the post of the superintendent will also be considered the overall in-charge of the hostel.

“We have fixed roles, duties and qualifications of hostel staff. We have also fixed the minimum infrastructure required, including dormitories and toilets,” Priyank Kanoongo, Member, RTE and Education, NCPCR said.

The guidelines also recommend that hostel fees should be collected on monthly or quarterly basis and not annually.

“The fees charged, if any, by the hostel must be regulated by the appropriate government and only be collected on monthly or quarterly basis,” as per the guidelines.

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“At coaching institutes, we have seen how parents pay a hefty fees at the beginning of the academic session for the entire year and students are not able to withdraw mid-session because of the money invested and eventually commit suicide,” Kanoongo said.

Learning from the experience at coaching institutes such as those in Kota where many IIT-aspirants have committed suicide, the NCPCR has also laid down steps to be taken to deal with mental health of students such as employing trained counselors as well as making provisions for “individual therapy”.

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The regulations also prescribe minimum nutritional intake and diet scales to be followed at these hostels.

The draft guidelines were made public today for a 10-day consultation with stakeholders, following which they will be finalised.