Why students march?

Editorial: Why students march?

Every year students across the country unite and march on the roads in the name of “students solidarity march”. This year they’ll march on 27th November. What makes them go out on the roads? Why don’t they focus on their studies? Let’s delve deep into statistics to see what’s wrong.

The 9th of February 1984 is a day of infamy for the democratic fabric of Pakistan, where there was a tear so fundamental that it left but a few shreds of democracy left in this Islamic Republic.This was the day when general zia banned student unions in Pakistan.Due to student unions, universities were nurseries of political leadership which may, if not banned, play a vital role in inculcating democratic values.36 years later, students are still demanding their very basic right to organize and become part of decision-making at campuses.This is the main reason why students march.

Female harassment is a disease spreading in our educational institutions.According to the Pakistan bureau of statistics, only 5.07 percent of Pakistan’s 102 million women ever finish university. Under the guise of mentor-ship, professors exploit and assault students . And students are powerless to speak out due to the threat of a failing grade or societal pressure.Due to conservative nature of society and socio-religious pressure, females find it very difficult to even speak about it let alone taking any action. There have been multiple incidents of females Being shot by their family members because they spoke against harassment which hurt the fake honour of their men.Female students march every year to remind the rulers of their plight. Students march demands harassment committees and complete awareness on this issue.

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Due to evergreen political instability in the country,the education sector has been completely ignored.A cut in the budget for the Higher Education Commission (HEC) eclipsed everything else on the education scene of Pakistan in year 2019.Before the budget was announced, the HEC had undertaken an extensive assessment exercise according to which the estimated requirement for the higher education sector for fiscal year 2019-2020 was Rs 103.5 billion. But the higher education’s apex body was allocated Rs 58.50 billion under the recurring grant which was even lower than the HEC had received in the previous fiscal year i.e., around Rs 66 billion in the fiscal year 2018-2019. Similarly, for the development budget the HEC was allocated Rs 29 billion against a demand of Rs 55 billion.With ever increasing population and very scarce resources, students demand increase in educational budget to fulfil needs of the country’s youth.

 

As the Internet emerged as the backbone of global communications during the corona virus pandemic, activists and students in some remote Pakistani of FATA and Baluchistan regions braved beatings and arrests to protest a lack of Internet access during lockdown.Universities closed and all students were told to attend online classes but students from above mentioned reasons had no internet access therefore their studies were badly affected. This unavailability of internet also exposed digital divide.Students demand availability of internet in all areas of Pakistan so that they can continue their online classes.

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Suppressing the dissent has been state’s most notorious policy. When students come out and speak against injustices they are arrested, abducted , tortured and silenced. This also happened last year when students came in huge numbers. Students march demands ending of this illegal practice and removal of all charges against students whose only crime is to speak of their rights. Alongside with that, many campuses in Pakistan especially in ex-FATA and Baluchistan are heavily militarized.Students demand demilitarization of campuses so that they can study and learn in a peaceful environment.

Students Action Committee (SAC) and Progressive Students Collective (PSC) are marching in more than 50 cities across pakistan to remind the government that their problems still remain un-addressed. Students unions are still banned, harassment cases are ever increasing, females are not safe at their campuses, educational budget is facing cuts. Until complete demands are not met, students will keep organizing to demand their rights because students are future of the nation. If you want them to focus on their studies , solve their problems accept their demands and they won’t march again. See you on 27th November.

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