Muhammad Hassan |
Youth Needs to Step Up
I think it would not be news to your ears now if I say the youth of our country is exceptional. When they put their mind and heart at something, there is nothing they cannot achieve. And although, they are the future of our country, we, as a country, hardly do anything to ensure that these brilliant minds become the key contributors in our country’s policies in the future. Our politics is hijacked by politicians so old that their feet lie in their graves, our talk shows revolve around political party’s pawns arguing and fighting live, leaving literally no avenue for the youth to voice their concerns and ideas.
Students’ Union in Pakistan
As I write this, I currently co-hold the role of International Students’ Officer within the Students’ Union at my university, University of York. I represent the voices of the 3,760 international students in the university. And it is such a fulfilling responsibility; in a nutshell, opportunities such as these help you grow immensely as a person.
In the recent growth of the Model United Nations in the country, it shows you that students are quite fed up with local boring issues and want more engagement with the big global issues.
A Students’ Union is that group of students that wants to ensure that the university’s practices are always in check and that promises are followed. They assist the university in gathering the input from the students. It sounds so alien, doesn’t it? It sounds so sophisticated that we think only countries more than advanced can enjoy luxuries like these? Truth be told, we had Student Unions until 1993 in our country as well, after which they were banned by the SC order stating that they contribute to violence on campuses.
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To be fair we have not changed much since 1993, but because an overall good idea simultaneously brings with it adverse consequences, it does not render the whole concept futile. It only means that we need to work on improving the shortcomings of the idea of Student Unions in Pakistan until it effectively starts working to our benefit.
What is a Student Union?
The Student Union culture in the UK works somewhat like this: every university has a Union that represents the students, which is then affiliated with a National Union of Students (NUS). NUS conveys the voice of the students all over the country to the different politicians, political and media avenues.
I do ask these educational institutes to sacrifice some of their time, money and resources, but I ask them this for the greater good. Am I confident that this is something students will be interested in?
In addition to its countless other benefits, I like the whole culture because it empowers and teaches the youth the ways on how to approach the political arena, should they wish to join politics in the future, and build your impact in the community as you approach it. Why I am saying this is because if you were to ask me how I can join politics right now in Pakistan, I really would not know the answer. And it may be like this because our political parties do not have a set recruitment structure.
I think the revival of the Student Union in our educational institutes will be a constructive way to engage the students in decision-making. This will not be easy and will take a lot of time. And I certainly think that this task should not be given to the students right away. This task should initially be embraced by the universities themselves. This sounds stupid because essentially I am asking the educational institutes to help set up the bodies that will eventually hold them accountable.
However, I say this in the grand scheme of things, which is to empower our youth. And if you still think that this is a completely senseless idea then I must tell you an interesting fact: most Student Unions in the UK get their funding from the universities they are at. So you see, it is all about how you see the role of SU. The universities here see SU as bodies that can help them engage with the students well and therefore improve the services for the students, thereby helping them attract more students in the future. We can do the same.
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It is about time we start taking those steps that will help us deliver our promises that we make every day that we want our youth to be empowered and that we want them to eventually run our country. It is these small things that will help them get there. The recent Senate resolution to revive Student Unions is a positive step forward and it needs to materialise into something now.
I do ask these educational institutes to sacrifice some of their time, money and resources, but I ask them this for the greater good. Am I confident that this is something students will be interested in? 100%. In the recent growth of the Model United Nations in the country, it shows you that students are quite fed up with local boring issues and want more engagement with the big global issues. Revival of Student Unions will provide them that platform to join politics, while also being well equipped to do so.
Muhammad Hassan is an undergraduate law student at the University of York, UK. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the author.