Student Solidarity March is a hot topic on media these days. This is a so-called movement for the preservation of the rights of students. It has it’s thirteen point agenda. This agenda includes two types of demand: political and economic+reformatory. Three demands have been made relating to politics. Firstly, the restriction on political parties should be lifted. Secondly, political activities by students should be permitted. Thirdly, student political prisoners should be released.
The very basic question is whether students are justified in taking part in politics along with their study career or not. Everyone who has got education up to college or university level is well aware of the role of political parties in educational institutions. The unrest created by frequent clashes between the adherents of different political parties destroys the whole educational environment of an institute.
The idea of student political wings can be traced back to the desire for inculcating political insight and maturity among students. Its purpose was to provide students with a short scale platform to practice their abilities. But unfortunately, these political wings have never adequately achieved their goal. Students of a particular political party form a pressure group and use their power merely to support their illegal activities outside the institution. Students who adhere to religious political parties try to enforce their so-called Islamic system in universities and cause riots.
Students’ political activities have not proved fruitful for they did not give birth to any political agenda or party. Perhaps there is not a single political party that has been established by students. What they do is to join prestructured traditional political parties and become a part of them. They follow the agenda of those parties and hence are unable to bring any real change.
The second part of the demands of Students Solidarity March is related to education reforms and providing economic relief to students. They are justified to some extent in their demands but the time and, way of their demand is improper. Free education, free transport, free hostels, the establishment of at least a university in a district and unemployment allowance to jobless students are the dreams that every citizen of a welfare state has. But being a welfare state does not provide it the potential to grant all these things. It demands a considerably strong and stable economy which we, unfortunately, do not have. These demands seem childish on the part of students since our country is passing through the worst economic phase, unknown in history.
Another point which is rather valid is the demand for the classless educational system and to build it on modern scientific and technological bases. Our educational system has three levels of education regarding quality. Madrassahs are at the bottom. The education imparted to students in madrassahs is not at all adequate to make them a useful component of modern progressive society.
The education in government schools is relatively good but still, it is not up to the mark. It is far behind in quality from its counterpart in other countries. Quality education is provided in private schools which only elite class can afford. Thus, three kinds of graduates are being produced which vary in their caliber. When they compete for any job, the ones who have graduated from private institutions succeed in attaining it with flying colors. Therefore, power and capital are confined to a particular class. Moreover, the education provided in Pakistan is about arts and humanities. We are far behind the world in the field of technology.
Ban on political activism by students should not be lifted by the government until students become mature enough to do something constructive. Democracy can only prosper in well educated as well as well trained societies. Unfortunately, our educated class too is miles away from that trained outlook.
The government has launched a financial aid program with the name of “Ehsaas Scholarships” for undergraduate students in which 2 million students are expected to be awarded scholarships. This is a tremendous step in the government’s part. Further facilities too would be awarded but all this cannot be done overnight. We must have to wait. The government would not award what it is not in a position to award, however hard we may press it.
As far as educational reforms are concerned, these aspects have been neglected by our previous rulers. This government has taken them into notice. The government will hopefully take steps to develop a classless educational system.