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News : Flurry of Calls to 'We Help' This Exam Time
March 12, 2014 -- There is a flurry of calls to the toll-free number this exam season. While it is exam phobia that is troubling some of the callers, others are bogged down by the pressure exerted by parents to earn high grades. A team of three teachers-cum-counsellors patiently listens to the grievances and offers valuable tips to the callers.
The ‘We Help’ counselling facility of the Directorate of Higher Secondary Education, to which these calls are directed, was launched on March 6.
Though aimed mainly at Plus-II students, Class X students also constitute a significant number of callers, as the SSLC exams are also on.
‘’We have handled close to 400 calls since the facility became operational. The calls usually reach a peak just hours before the exam. From sweaty palms to shivering on seeing the question paper, from parental pressure to acute depression, the problems of the callers are varied,’’ says Sreekala P G, an HSE teacher at RKD NSS Higher Secondary School here who is one of the counsellors.
The facility is operational on all exam days from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Two other teachers - Anu Anto of St Joseph’s HSS and Shihabudeen K of Jamaat HSS - are also part of the ‘We Help’ team.
Since the teachers have received training mostly in advising students on academic-related issues, serious psychological problems are usually referred to experts.
"In some cases, we have even had callers who were on the verge of suicide due to exam-related stress. We promptly referred these cases to the National Health Mission’s Dial A Doctor facility,’’ Sreekala said.
The State Government had recently launched the ‘Dial a Doctor’ programme enabling the public to seek health-related advice over phone round-the-clock from doctors. ‘’We route the calls to Disha, which is the call-centre handling such problems,’’ Sreekala said.
The counsellors do agree that cases of parental pressure on candidates are on the rise. ‘’We believe that adequate awareness should be created on the importance of providing a stress-free atmosphere for students at home,’’ Anu said.
Though there is a rousing response to ‘We Help’, certain infrastructural hurdles had delayed its March 3 launch by three days. According to sources, ‘We Help’ was launched by mid-February last year enabling many students to avail the facility a few weeks before the examination.
‘’Since the number of callers are quite large, we are planning to increase the infrastructure facilities and number of counsellors from next academic year onwards,’’ K Mohanakumar, Additional Director (Examinations) of the Higher Secondary Directorate said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, March 17, 2014