This article has been contributed by Taimur Khan, one of the core committee members of Progressive Students’ Collective:

Students in all major cities of Pakistan, from both private and public sectors, are organizing a march to stand in solidarity with students who have been victims of bogus educational institutions and state authorities.

Organized by a body known as Progressive Student’s collective or PSC, the march is taking place on Friday 30th November, chairing cross, Mall Road Lahore. While simultaneously, students in other cities such as Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi, Faisalabad etc. will hold marches in their respective cities.

Recently, we have witnessed a boom in the education industry with private universities and school opening up in large numbers in Lahore and its outskirts, but the drawback is that most of them are not recognized by the Higher Education Committee of Pakistan. Such is the example of Global College, which gave admissions to many young people aspiring to be competent professionals and charged them highly for tuition, but it was to be discovered later by the students that the college they spent 4 years in was not recognized by HEC. Students are waiting for authorities to compensate them for their wasted time and money and await justice to be served.

Pakistani student unions have played a significant role in the country’s politics. The picture depicts a protest against Zia’s policies

But the scope of this mass mobilization is not limited to the matter of unrecognized institutions only. Students are demanding the revival of the student union culture which, in the past and all around the world to this day, serves as the regulating body between students and authorities to ensure that the voice of the students is being heard in their institutions.

Furthermore, the students are demanding formation of committees within every educational institution to address the issues of on-campus sexual harassment to cater and address the issue that has long been considered a taboo in our workplaces, offices and educational institutes.

A poster by the union, listing their demands in Urdu

Some other pertinent points in the demands are:

Representation of students in all decision making bodies of universities, removing ban on student unions, development and creation of new educational institutes in remote and rural areas, action against the recent fee hikes in public sector universities, spending 5% of the total GDP on education, freedom of thought and expression within universities, action against institutional bias towards students coming from areas other than Punjab, end mistreatment of Baloch and Pashtun students at the hands of university management, removal of discriminatory and hateful material from the academic curriculum and, end harassment and humiliation of students on the pretext of “security” and uniform quality education in all institutes.

Other student unions have called to march before but none of them have ever been as large as this one is expected to be

Long has been the voice of students been suppressed, and the rise of such movements from the civil society is a ray of hope that revival of student bodies and student activism would at least ensure that the voice of the most integral faction of the society is being heard and their legitimate demands are being catered to.

Contributor: Taimur Khan


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