‘Cyrus’ my three-year-old Great Dane falls ill often. We try different kinds of medication. Some work, some don’t.
I have been falling sick very often over the past 6 months as well.
Both of us refer to our respective ‘men of medicine’ but for some reason, even though my illness seems to be more severe, Cyrus’ seems to be more difficult to treat. This is attributed to the fact that I have a voice and he doesn’t.
Education in India today, particularly Bangalore, suffers from the ‘Cyrus Syndrome’ where students cannot voice their problems. So the question that confronts us is whether this is symptomatic of all educational institutes all over the country?
No. Bangalore is different, because here we have a ban on Student activism in educational institutes.
In my opinion – it was the right law to be passed in its stated intention, but, as has been seen in various instances before, the legislation has led to more unintended consequences than foreseen. Bangalore has some of the finest educational institutions and bringing politics into the campus is definitely not going to create a conducive environment to study.
But the result of this has been that all students now suffer from ‘Cyrus syndrome.’ We cannot communicate, effectively to the management, what we need and want and vice a versa.
Let’s take an example – Most colleges today have compulsory attendance of 85%.
Right, fair enough. We are paying for education – let’s sit in the classroom.
In the legal field, the only way to assure ones self of a job, is by working with your prospective employers for a considerable period of time, to be able to impress them. The college has stipulated a time table which takes the entire working day – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This means, I cannot intern during the semester.
So, getting that required attendance becomes very difficult, if I want to work in order to secure my future. Especially, at the beginning of the semester, the laws of percentages play cruel games on students.
The college’s requirement is clear – You must be in class 85% of the time and figure a way to balance your academics and other activities.
If I as a lone student were to go and question the management, I would certainly be side tracked, with a bull’s eye painted on my head. Being a good friend, I wouldn’t want to paint that bull’s eye on my friends and take them along to show solidarity. And my enemies would smell the paint a mile away.
So, WHAT DO I DO? I manage. “Swalpa adjust maadi” as the lingo goes. But how is this furthering education, knowledge or learning? This was just one, simple, non-life threatening example. There are a lot more serious situations that go unheard.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO? Bring back Student unions and pray that our lecturers don’t fall like dominos suffering from heart attacks? NO, definitely not. The answer is very simple.
‘A political student units’ in every college with a proper structure and fair elections.
The benefit of this is two fold:
- The management get’s to communicate effectively its thoughts, and the students get to express their opinions on the new policy, effectively. No more ‘Cyrus syndrome’
- Some of the greatest leaders our country has seen were student leaders. This way we bring governance and not politics back into the education system. Where by students understand how systems work and how to balance to it with education.
Educational institutions are places for learning. Not a manufacturing line that produces certificates.
Globally acclaimed Universities, like Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard have actively encouraged student units and student interest groups. These have produced, just to mention a few – Late Mrs. Benazir Bhutto - Former Prime minister of Pakistan, late Mr. Jyoti Basu – Longest serving elected head of a democratic state and Barrack Obama – President of the United States of America.
We have fought hard for the democracy we enjoy in our country. Why not allow that democracy in educational institutions?