I don’t remember the last time I went for classes that were not canceled the following day or the week. The cancellation of classes this year has become unfairly normal. I remember when I was in school, I used to think that school stands aloof of everything that is happening around. Whatever comes, I will have to go to my classes. Besides, the class used to be the haven of safety. But, is it so now? Suddenly, the world and its fights are more conspicuous and have overpowered the necessity of education. True it is important to partake the world and its events, but at the cost of education?
The year 2020 started off with a rather terrifying morning as the reputed universities of India had turned into grounds of violence. As the aftermath of the controversial CAA, the whole nation broke into numerous protests and violence. The loudest voice of dissent and of violence was heard in the premises of the Jamia Milia Islamia and other Universities of India. As a consequence, a cloud of terror surrounded all the universities. So much that the students could only think “Will this happen with me too?”, ” Will I be beaten and bludgeoned in my own college?”. The next we hear is that all the colleges have been shut. Students were afraid to go to college and did not feel safe anymore
The CAA protests came when the protests at JNU against fee hikes had seen no respite. Amidst of all this cacophony, the exams, which are important for education, were either suspended, boycotted and held in fear. While JNU had completely boycotted the examinations, DU held their’s amidst the pressure of DUTA protests and later the horror of Jamia lockdown. The results of the semester exams haven’t been declared yet and we are already a month away from the end of the whole academic year.
After the situations were somewhat under control and classes resumed, though barricaded by the police force, it could not remain the same for long. The unimaginable happened in Gargi College that shook the whole University. The sexual assault of women inside a women’s college on the day of the fest left us all shocked and disillusioned. Though this did not call for the cancellation of classes throughout the University, the normalcy of entering from the college gate and feeling safe was again threatened. And within a few weeks, Delhi was burning in the fire of riots as the CAA protests touched its peak. All the classes were once again canceled and we were concerned about the safety of our lives.
This frequent cancellation has not only affected the regular classes and the practice of learning but it has also affected the mental stability of students. No more does the idea of safety and learning signify classes and universities. There is a disjunction caused in the signification that we grew up with and it will take a long time to dissolve. Education and its importance are in their primacy and priority over anything else. If education is compromised, how can one have complete awareness about world events and not be carried away by rumors? Knowledge is the sole weapon by which one can differentiate between just and unjust, right and wrong and wisdom and rumor. And colleges, professors and class are the primary foundation of education and knowledge. If going to classes was not important, why is the literacy rate in India still low? Why are many unprivileged kids uneducated?
While I am writing this article, almost all of the universities across the nation have been shut again due to coronavirus threat. Many exams have been canceled. The outstation students who visited their hometown for Holi breaks are still there because classes have been shifted to online lectures. But, are all outstation students as privileged and free to take online lectures? Many students take a risk and come to cities for education against the will of their families. While some live in areas where network and online life is not yet full-fledged. For them, the frequent cancellation of classes is a loss of each opportunity they had to learn and do something that their family might not allow. Ultimately, some of the students are forced to engage in the household because either their grades aren’t good or they have nothing to do. Being stuck at home at this time when students used to be busy in back to back lectures, as professors rushed to complete the syllabus and IA submissions is a haunting silence.
Though the cancellations were inevitable but could the reasons be avoided? Now when coronavirus has become a major concern, isolation and shutting down the schools are unavoidable. But what about the previous cancellations? Perhaps, if earlier the cancellations could be avoided, students might not have been so disillusioned. Could education and students be considered of paramount importance and be preserved despite the hindrance?
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