Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - A boom in suicides among Nepalese students under pressure because of the end of year school exams. In the last three days, 10 young people have taken their lives as a result of not having passed the final exam. Pratikchya Sharma, 15, of Nepalgunj (Mid-Western Region) hanged herself in her room when she learned that she had failed. Like her, another young woman, Sarita Rana, from the district of Palpa, took her own life because she failed the final exam. In a high school of Shree Ram, a student killed himself by ingesting poison when he discovered he had failed the written exam of three subjects. The cases do not apply, however, to the Catholic schools, which are considered the best in the country, where most of the students are accompanied by their teachers during the entire examination period.
Manprasad Wagle, a psychologist, identifies among the causes of the suicides the increase in poverty caused by the political and social crisis in the country. "State schools" - he adds - "also have some responsibility, the pressures on young people are excessive and there is nobody to help them face the examinations with serenity."
The expert explains that in Hindu society the success or failure in education of children is a social discriminatory factor for the whole family. "When one fails an examination" - Wagle says - "he or she is regarded with contempt by friends and family and this makes the young people lose all hope, pushing them to commit suicide." This mainly affects women. Those who manage to get an education will have a better chance of marrying an educated and wealthy man.
The School Leaving Certificate (SLC) is a certificate of diploma which allows the student to make the transition to university. For 2012, there were almost 500,000 candidates, of which about 47% failed the test. The number of failed exams has risen by 10% compared to 2011.
Catholic schools are an exception in the education system of Nepal. Run by the Jesuits, they are considered the best in the country. This year, 100% of their students passed the examinations and there have been no cases of suicide. This is due to the method of teaching that emphasizes the education of the student and his human and spiritual growth rather than mere rote learning.
To date, the Jesuits have three colleges and one university, and 33 schools including primary, secondary and high schools, administered together with the local Catholic communities. In addition to schools, the missionaries have opened several hospitals and clinics; among the more important ones there are the Child Care Centres of Pokhara and Jawalakhel, the Freedom Center, a reahabilitation institute for drug users, in Nakkhipot (Lalitpur, central Nepal) and the Human Development Research Centre in Sanepa (Lalitpur).