ANDHRA PRADESH

A heartfelt move to help students build strong character

Increasing stress levels pushing students into depression or even to the extreme step of suicide in some cases is a major cause of concern that has shifted people’s focus on factors contributing to the alarming situation.

Perturbed by the trend, the government has initiated measures to address the issue in an effective way.

The problem seems to be more pronounced in Intermediate colleges, a fact that has made the Board of Intermediate Education (BIE) to sit up and work on novel strategies to enhance self-esteem among young learners.

Just when the BIE is looking for right assistance, it has found HELP (Heartfulness — Experience Life’s Potential), a Hyderabad-based organisation that imparts a 16-week-long certificate course in life skills and values that equip students with ‘heartfulness’ practices, skills and knowledge for quality educational outcomes.

“The idea is to help students live a balanced, purposeful and happy life through heart-based practices as part of sustainable school reform programme,” said B. Udayalakshmi, Secretary, BIE, who has put in place the new tool for students to battle stress.

The course, which is integrated into the Intermediate academic curriculum, will cover tools and techniques of ‘heartfulness’, essential life skills like managing stress, time, conflicts and habits and basic human values and positive relationships.

“It is an ongoing programme covering nearly 2.57 lakh students and we intend to reach out to 5 lakh students across the 13 districts by coming March 31,” said Ms. Udayalakshmi.

The BIE has sent the government recommendation to the Principals of all Government Junior Colleges, government aided colleges and private unaided colleges to incorporate ‘heartfulness programmes’ for their students not just to bring down stress levels but also to nurture ethical and moral values.

She said such programmes were known to reduce stress and anxiety levels resulting in a more balanced state of mind and curb unfortunate tendency of suicides. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu released a handbook on ‘heartfulness’ at a meeting.

Free coaching

Introduction of free EAMCET coaching in 35 Government Junior Colleges is yet another BIE initiative.

“We have identified centres of excellence to impart this training to students, especially to those from the economically backward sections,” she said. “Allocation of Rs. 53 crore for implementation of mid-day meal scheme in the Government Junior Colleges has come as a boon to many students.”