We have had enough of non-academic activities; will you please just let us study?

We have had enough of non-academic activities; will you please just let us study?

An open letter to the education department authorities on the constant, time-wasting preoccupation with this, that and the other campaign

I would like everyone to pay attention to the future of our students, a future already in jeopardy partially because of the Covid-19 pandemic and partially because of the never-ending political problems of Kashmir. I would like to begin with a brief history of my own academic journey over the last 5 years.
In 2019, I was in 12th standard, full of hope and optimism, eagerly learning and taking lectures. I loved political science and never missed a single class. Everything was going fine but then due to abrogation of Article 370, everything changed and we had to stay at home. We couldn’t attend classes; we couldn’t use the internet for studies because there was no internet. The future seemed bleak. By the end of the year, I found myself in the examination hall, with a question paper in my hand that asked questions many of which were unknown to me. Fortunately, I qualified my 12th and joined college with the hope that in college I would compensate the loss.
Coming to college was a new hope for me; hope that I would finally be able to attend regular classes. My first day at college went quite smooth but the next day, well, there was no next day. Due to Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown the dream to study in college remained a dream only. For the next two years, we took online classes. Although the only option available, it didn’t yield optimum results. Somehow, I managed to qualify my first and second semesters without going to college. In the third semester, my hopes again rose and I thought at least now I would attend real classes, but by then I had forgotten what my goal was. Still I thought that now Covid-19 is almost over and the situation in Kashmir is a bit calm, so I can again try to focus on my studies. You might be thinking what the problem was then?
Well, no doubt we go to college every day, we enter the classrooms every day, and teachers prepare their lectures everyday but sadly, we never attend classes every day. Every day our teachers inform us about some new activities that are to be held in college today or tomorrow or next week or next month. Not a single day goes by when we don’t have to carry out some activity. One day, there is a seminar on drug addiction, the next day there is an essay competition on drug addiction, and then there’s a slogan competition on drug addiction. Another day we are told to hold a rally and make people aware regarding the negative effects of drug abuse (even though no one in the market even looks at us) as if people don’t know that already. For another week, we are just told to watch documentaries on how drugs destroy lives. When we ask our teachers why don’t they just take classes and let us focus on our academics, they apologetically say that it’s an order from the higher authorities.
So, I am asking all the higher authorities, what’s going on? Why are we forced to participate in non-academic activities? Why aren’t we allowed to take regular classes? Is prioritising co-curricular activities over academics really helping students or is it only destroying their career? We are students, and no doubt we have to focus on non-academic activities but our main reason to go to college is something else; it is to study.
We love our nation and we admire all our nation builders and all the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for our better future. I have high regard for all our national heroes but I don’t think it’s necessary to sacrifice a month’s classes to only watch documentaries on the freedom struggle. Even the freedom fighters wouldn’t have wanted that. Our nation has not yet fully developed; nation building still needs education.
I am a girl and I know the government is worried about us. But I consider it totally redundant to waste my time on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan when it doesn’t even serve any purpose. I have lost count of the number of activities that we had to carry out regarding this Abhiyan. No doubt this campaign was for our betterment but I have to confess that instead of helping, it has only increased our problems. I think that to help girls progress in life, the government needs to let them focus on studies instead of forcing them to attend seminars and sessions on how important they are and making them write essays on how to save themselves.
To celebrate the Cyber Jagarata Diwas we had to carry out more than twelve activities, not to mention how much they affected our regular class work. These are all major activities; I am not even considering the minor ones that we carry out on daily basis. Every day in addition to the major activities there is some day to celebrate something, for example Youth Day, Yoga Day and many other days.
Recently, to celebrate India’s 75th independence anniversary, we had to carry out activities for a month and for weeks we were kept engaged with the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign, thus we couldn’t attend a single class properly. From the next week, our exams are starting, and already we haven’t had many classes. Now we are being directed to participate in the Nasha Mukht Bharat Abhiyan that would go on for another month. I have this one question regarding this Abhiyan, how would a mere slogan writing competition help in reducing drug addiction? Would the drug addicts read them and stop taking drugs? The government needs to take some serious steps if they want this problem to end completely. Making students, who probably aren’t even into drugs, watch documentaries won’t help in the longer run. All these activities were carried out under the banner of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, which has been going on for a year now.
During exams we hardly get time to prepare because of these daily activities. Leave the exams, we don’t get time for our personal growth because we are busy in pretending to be useful to the world. We have not time for ourselves.
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation, for whose birth anniversary we have been given a list of three-week long activities to carry out in our college, himself said, “If we want to reach real peace in this world, we should start educating children”. By education, I am sure he didn’t mean depriving students of basic academic education just for the sake of some futile activities. He was himself a supporter of educating boys and girls and I am pretty sure he wouldn’t have dreamt of this kind of education system, which is regressive in nature. He would have wanted teachers to teach and students to learn.
Nobody has ever progressed by living in the past. Ringing the stories of past struggles won’t help in creating a better future. We are the future, we have the responsibility to make a better future and thus we want the freedom to learn how to build a bright future. Time is crucial for us, every single second is precious, if we keep ourselves busy with too many co-curricular activities, I am afraid, our future would be abysmally dark.
I am tired. We all are tired. We solely desire a little ease now. We can’t go on carrying out different activities throughout the week. I am not saying that we don’t want any co-curricular activities at all, but too many of them have become an unnecessary burden for us. One activity a week was enough to keep us involved. If we keep one day in a week only for these co-curricular/extra-curricular activities, I think that would work in everyone’s favour. Our main motto to go to college, and spend a considerable amount of money on fares/ books etc is because we want to learn something. We want to study.
Earlier our classrooms used to be full of students and now there are only a few of us. The number of regular students in college has declined because of this new trend that the government has started. Students are so fed up with these activities that they prefer to stay at home than come to college. No one wants to sit in a hall for 40 minutes just to watch how we attained Independence and how our Constitution was framed. This is the modern era we are living in, we have all got the technology, we have smart phones, we have YouTube, and we can just watch those documentaries or movies at home in our spare time. In college, we have bigger things to worry about. I’d rather prefer to sit in the library and read books than to go out for a rally just to be a part of a mere pomp show.
We were always told that when you have some doubts, you can ask your teachers and I am sure my teachers would love to help me clear my doubts. But sadly, they don’t get the time to focus on us. Poor souls are always busy with some non-academic activities when they would want to focus on our academics. And because of this, our studies are suffering. Normal class work has become a rarity for us. The primary job of a teacher is to teach, and if he has to sacrifice his classes to do other work, what’s the point of that job? I want to ask all the concerned authorities, why educational institutions are made redundant and teachers irrelevant by prioritizing non-academic activities over academic activities.
Since all the students can’t speak, I want to be a voice for all of them and I hope this voice reaches somewhere anywhere and the authorities take a notice of our problems. I, as an aggrieved student, want my grievances to be addressed as soon as possible. My request is not big; I don’t want permission to fly rockets over my courtyard. My little and yet biggest request is only one, “Please let us learn, please let us study and focus on our academics, and please make our education system a little student-centric.” I have lost hopes for my future but this article is still a last hope that someone would take action and help hundreds of students like me. We have had enough of activities now. We can’t waste another valuable year just because our government refuses to address our priorities by focusing on what they think is better for us.

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