Gandhinagar: When he got into the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Gandhinagar earlier this year, the tremendous pressure to succeed almost got the better of him, first year students Shubham says.
It was then that the University's Peer Assisted Learning system or PAL came to his help. The system appoints mentors and groups that help students deal with stress and pressure.
"The first time you are in a different setup away from your family, you find yourself facing enormous pressure. That's when I got help from my senior guide. My confidence grew as I could share my limitations with him. Now I feel pretty much settled here," said Shubham.
The system was introduced at IIT Gandhinagar three years ago. Now, with incidents of students' suicides and mass failures on the rise, the Human Resource Development ministry has asked all IITs to introduce it.
"After you come here, everyone starts from a zero level. You have to focus on studies which bring in pressure. You have to give examination in English and the medium of instructions is English. So you have to deal with pressure on various fronts," says student mentor Sreenivasan.
Besides company, the system also involves compensation for the seniors. In IIT Gandhinagar, they get paid Rs 125 per hour but other IITs are free to decide their own compensation.
"We started off with six mentors and about 12 students and in the last three years we have now reached about 20 mentors assisting 42 students. More importantly the exercise has given a sense of fulfilment to the seniors," said Assistant professor Kabeer Jasuja.
Garima Chaudhary, a student, said, "When you don't have peer guide you reach a point where you can take an extreme step like suicide. But that's where a mentor's role is important. He or she can come in at that point identify the problem and check the students from taking the extreme step."