At least 20 Indian students have killed themselves over the last two weeks after receiving notification that they had failed intermediate school exams. Most recently, a 17-year-old girl took her life after her parents say she was feeling depressed about failing her zoology test, reports the Khaleej Times.
Between February and March, nearly 1 million students took the intermediate 11th- and 12th-grade standard examinations – but more than one-third were notified that they had failed the test, prompting protests from students, parents, and political groups about the efficacy of grading by the Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education (BIE).
The board’s Chief Minister reportedly ordered that the exam results be reexamined for the test-takers who had failed and urged the students not to harm themselves in the interim. IFLScience reached out to the board for an official statement and their expected next steps but did not receive a response at the time of publication. Many parents believe that some sort of software error may have occurred when the private company Globarena Technologies Private Limited took over processing the exams, reports the Khaleej Times. Scoring was previously conducted by a government agency.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India issued a statement on the discrepancy, calling for a detailed report on the matter within a month, including outlining any action that will be taken against those at fault, as well as addressing compensation to the affected families. The organization says the government initially “dismissed the allegations”, but if they are true, then it will “raise the issues of serious lapse on the part of the authorities amounting to [a] violation of human rights. Thorough probe into the matter is required not only to punish the guilty but to ensure that such sorrowful incidents do not recur in future.”
A three-member panel appointed by the government is currently analyzing the software program and is working across 12 centers to reevaluate answer sheets submitted by failed students at no cost. Additionally, as many as 50,000 students who passed the exam but were unsatisfied with their results have also applied to have their test scores reexamined.
BIE says it expects to have the reevaluations completed by the middle of May.