School pressure?: Sixth-grader takes his own life after failing for third time

Published: April 2, 2014
 A file photo of a pistol.

A file photo of a pistol.


Fourteen-year-old Noor Hayat woke up on Monday (March 31) in good spirits. It was result day at school and he was confident that he had passed the sixth- grade examinations, which he had to repeat for a third time because he failed for two consecutive years.

He joined his fellow sixth-graders at Government High School-I Sakhakot, Malakand and waited patiently for the results to be announced and for the school day to end so he could share the good news with his mother.

However, when Noor returned home from school, what happened next will haunt his mother for years to come. When asked about his result, he smiled and told his mother he cleared the exams. Then, the teenager went to a room and came back with a pistol in his hand.

According to Noor’s mother, she assumed he was happy and wanted to use the weapon for aerial firing, which she urged her son not to do. She had no clue what was to follow. Her son aimed the pistol at his chest and pulled the trigger.

His family learned later that Noor had failed his exams, again.

Noor’s maternal uncle, Muhammad Fayyaz, told The Express Tribune he hurried to his sister’s side when he heard the shocking news. Neighbours and relatives had rushed him to Dargai hospital but doctors referred him to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. The wounded teenager didn’t make it to the second hospital alive.

Noor was the second of five children. His father has been working in Malaysia for the past 10 years and would only visit during holidays, leaving his mother to care for the children on her own.

“He was a bit different compared to other boys his age. He wasn’t an exceptional student but he was passionate about pursuing his studies,” said his uncle Fayyaz, adding the teenager was a regular boy who liked mobile phones and wanted to have his own motorbike.

“The education department should formulate a strategy for those students who show a keen interest to learn despite exam results, as it shows their dedication, which should be appreciated,” said Fayyaz.

Noor’s class fellow, Israr, told The Express Tribune that the deceased was a good friend. “Sometimes he would get punished in class but he never gave up on his studies. He was also a regular student, only taking a leave from school if he was sick,” Israr said.

Government High School-I Sakhakot Principal Abdul Halim said the school’s students and staff were saddened over Noor’s death and several of them attended the funeral.

He added the school’s teachers were quite lenient in their marking and Noor’s depression over failing was rare among students.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2014.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Ahsan
    Apr 2, 2014 - 1:11PM

    The state of education – judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree.


  • Usman Ali Hyder
    Apr 2, 2014 - 1:42PM

    Pakistan’s education system: unfortunately over-pressurizing children instead of producing creative minds!


  • وہ نقاب پوش کون تھا؟
    Apr 2, 2014 - 1:49PM

    Different? Poor kid could be struggling with any of the learning disabilities and who would know that in the Government High School-I.


  • Salwa
    Apr 2, 2014 - 1:57PM

    how are guns and pistols so easily accessible to all these kids !!!!!!!!


  • Uza Syed
    Apr 2, 2014 - 2:05PM

    Without commenting on this tragedy, I just wish to ask what kind of doctors work in that hospital (Dargai Hospital) who just referred the poor boy who must be profusely bleeding due to bullet wounds in his chest. Wouldn’t any competent doctor (with reason able training, an MBBS, in surgery which they all must receive & tested before qualifying for their Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery degree). There has to be some serious inquiries & investigations done about the competence level of all those doctors working in that hospital who just opted to refer a seriously injured patient to a Hospital which, I assume, is located far away (otherwise his carers would have gone there in the first place, again I’m assuming).


  • Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd)
    Apr 2, 2014 - 2:37PM

    How callous can a teacher be. The first time he failed he should been given extra coaching by the school. Everyone has some honor, dignity & ego.


  • Mehr
    Apr 2, 2014 - 3:04PM

    I feel very sorry for the family, but it may be more than just exams. A father who’s not around and a gun that’s so easily accessible!


  • Aly Sakhi
    Apr 2, 2014 - 3:08PM

    its unfortunate, it is not only the education system but our society and parents alike responsible for such incidents. even the educated parents are not aware of the facts that some children may have learning disabilities or different learning preferences..many parents seldom ask children though out the year and during assessment period , they put lot of pressure on kids..they make it an issue of their family pride and dignity..that what people will say ..again he/she could not make it. Educate the parents ..legislators should come up with policy pertaining to giving spcial previliges to students who have some special issues ..apprently someone may look fine..but psychological analysis shows that when kids are turning apathetic ..the lose their self esteem ..which ultimately kills..Recommend

  • Farah
    Apr 2, 2014 - 3:42PM

    @Salwa: Same as they are in US schools, parents aren’t careful with weapons.


  • Farah
    Apr 2, 2014 - 4:32PM

    @Lt Col Imtiaz Alam (retd): As a teacher I know we don’t like to fail students but if he/she fails to score good marks just giving passing grades to send him to next class is not a good option. In private schools we see our Principals promote these under performers and see them struggle for the another year because the lesson is too tough for them to understand.
    Failing is part of educational career, yes no one likes it but suicide seems to be an easy way out nowadays for every thing just turn on any channel they will fill your day with every kind of gruesome crime.
    Students used to fail before but they used to work hard not to repeat the mistakes made earlier. As for teachers paying attention do you have any idea nowadays teachers have so many extracurricular duties assigned that they find it difficult to manage their class room duties let alone give extra time to weak students. Bosses tell us to advise the parents to arrange tuition for their kids and pay attention to FINISHING the syllabus, teaching is no longer about imparting knowledge but we are whipped daily to finish the Syllabus according to Lesson Plans made by Ladies sitting in AC offices who have no idea about the ground realities of taking a “normal” class room where we have good, average and weak students. We as teachers want to take time out for our weak students , to slow down the pace to make them catch up but we are forced to ignore them.
    The result is not always so tragic as this case but its heart breaking none the less.Recommend

  • Dr. Khalid
    Apr 2, 2014 - 7:03PM

    Parental pressure and poor parenting leads to these kind of situations…. Sad


  • Apr 2, 2014 - 8:03PM

    Our educational system ,teachers ,and parents are responsible for such tragedies.Teachers are usually untrained and not well versed in child psychology .and there is no arrangement to diagnose the learning disability of a student ..A student who was serious ,regular and,sincere with his studies.required help and support from his teachers and parents and professional help in diagnosing his learning problems but being a third world country we cannot think of such facilities.and I fear such tragedies might occur again and again because of our ignorance and irresponsibility towards our students.. . .Recommend

  • Very sad and shocking indeed. However, the present teaching practice in schools has been reduced to rote memorization of taught concepts. No one bothers to focus on skill development in each subject. Sadly this is the same for both the government and private sector schools.

    The current education system/s DO NOT cater to individual student needs at the level of early years education. A 6th or even a 9th grade student is not a learner who can apply the taught concepts, as he/she has not been given the basic skills (including the examination skills) to fare in the academic years.

    What they are stressed upon, mostly, is the rote learning and a student who rotes the best always passes his class tests, school, board even university exams with flying colours. Our institutions are encouraging this practice. All the potential of young children is being wasted on useless examination practice which stresses upon assessing the child on his ability to memeorise only.

    On the individual level the teachers also play a significant role in confidence building in children and when a teacher relates the acceptance of a child as an individual with passing of a certain exam, such tragedies occur.

    We, at Alba International School, Lahore, Pakistan, extend our deepest sympathies to the grieved mother.

    Memoona S. Rizvi


  • Bakhtawar
    Apr 3, 2014 - 4:40PM

    Sometimes, you just don’t know. You’re simply chaotic inside.

    Exam stress is very common among students and I believe it’s extremely detrimental to your own self. In many ways. Of which, what noor did is an example.

    Ban exams. Come up with other ways of assessing kids. Recommend

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