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Youth quake: Campus drill

December 20, 2009

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My sister describes going to college as an experience similar to entering a high-security facility in a mystery film rather than an educational institution in the real life. Not only are they now not allowed to bring handbags (no kidding) but they are required to park their cars almost a kilometre away, walk to campus, pass through a metal detector and God forbid should they accidentally step out to check their car even leaving the campus for mere seconds means that they have to go through the same process again.

The result? A highly demotivated student body when it comes to the notion of attending college and many of them are considering alternative options (read schools) where they won't have to go through the same, stressful hassle. “I can understand that due to the instability in the country and the (recent) bombing at a university in Islamabad, the administration wants to make sure everyone here is safe,” remarked a student recently, “but this is too much on top of the work we're already given. Our classes are often rescheduled and this makes us feel like the criminals.”

In a highly-prestigious O and A level school; they've taken security measures to a whole new extreme. After going through the same hassle as mentioned above, the students are only allowed to enter one by one—and that too by running across the ground from the gate to the building—alongside a plethora of faculty members that stand a few paces apart from each other. I couldn't help but wonder this must have made starting the school day, very hard.

Then there are those institutions, such as certain government colleges, that prefer to give several days off to their students whenever tragedy strikes another part of our country, reminding everyone that ensuring security is a very real concern. “Oh no, not another chutti!” exclaimed a female student belonging to an art institution.

“Our teachers have to finish the course one way or another before the semester is over,” she explained the reason for her dismay, “we've already had to reschedule quite a few classes to make up for the ones we missed and this will just add to it! We can't take too many extra classes in one day... it's exhausting and it's hard trying to do everything at once!”

Not to mention the fact that delays in exam schedules, and therefore the overall results, can prove to be harmful especially when students are applying at institutions that have a fixed date for submitting educational records and starting their semester. “We're actually afraid of sending our kids to school,” a Pakistani blogger posted on his blog, “but you can't keep them at home either... so what to do?”

Gathering from all of the above, it seems that indirectly, education happens to be one of the victims of the current instability in the country and it is a notion which is extremely worrisome. The recent occurrences in the country give every reason for educational institutions to get all Paranoid Android on the security of their students, faculty and premises; they need to understand where to draw the line between extreme paranoia and practicality. Having said that, mankind has always shown a spirit of resilience and optimistically speaking, it may just be a matter of time before the paranoid drill is taken off the campus.