It took Russia to attack Ukraine for our newspapers and news channels to change their headlines. Ever since the Hijab ban controversy spiralled out of control, everyone (with any or no knowledge) was giving their unwarranted advice/suggestions/opinions. So I decided it was time to express my feelings too. I mean why should I not, whether it makes sense or not to others is totally secondary and inconsequential. So here goes, and you don’t have to agree with what I say.
All this brouhaha is about having a uniform dress code in the academic institutions, right? What’s the ‘uniform’? In the defence services, it means everyone wears the exact same dress for the specific rank or ceremony or duty. So doesn’t matter your age or sex or religion, if you are of a certain rank, you will wear the same uniform. In schools too something like this is followed. All students wear the same uniform. I think even some organisations have some system like this. A total equaliser environment.
So now when girls are choosing Hijab over academics, I find it very confusing and disturbing. I thought we were marching ahead, getting a progressive attitude and opening up to accept the larger world. Then why are such things gaining more importance? Why is the headscarf more important than the grade sheet? One’s personal development depends on what one learns and how one uses that knowledge, not on how one dresses up. Any academic institution, be it a school or college, is a place of learning. All students are taught the same things. Knowledge doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religion or gender. So why all this noise about the Hijab?
I wholeheartedly agree that religion is a personal choice, and it should not come in the way of one performing one’s duties. Or that religion is not to be flaunted as an excuse for doing or not doing something. In recent years the subject of religion has become so prickly that it’s like walking on eggshells. It’s best kept away from academics.
The onus of handling this lies on the individual. The individual students should realise what’s more important to them – their future with a strong academic background or their compromised religious identity? If the hijab is affecting academic performance, then by all means the institutions should go ahead and ban its use. Wearing the Hijab is part of the religious identity and should be restricted to the personal lives of the individual; not flaunted in public, seeking concessions.
Let’s concentrate instead on the more important things like what’s being taught and how is it benefitting the students. The ‘what’ is taught in the schools and colleges and academic institutions is more important than these diversions.
The atmosphere is thick with apprehensions and uncertainties. Let’s address that.
Kids have a lot of pent-up frustration which needs to be channelised. Let’s work on that.
Parents and children have discovered the joys of the ‘as-per-our-convenience-education process’ online. Let’s find a way to end it.
Students have figured out ways to get high scoring performances with minimum effort. Let’s get them back to the actual way of studying and scoring by restructuring the grading system.
Post pandemic, academic institutions are only now slowly reopening. Schools and colleges are waiting to welcome back the students. The parents and students have mixed feelings about the same as now their lives need to be rearranged around the academic calendars and not vice versa.
There’s so much to do. Why are we wasting time on such trivial matters? Let’s work on finding a way in which to recover the two years the students have lost out on, not just the academics but more importantly their social development.
Some of the scary symptoms of the lockdown have been the bottled-up energies, the unsupervised development, the lack of proper guidance at home, dealing with uncertainties and tragedies, raging hormones, convenience at the fingertips, unrestricted access to the internet, social media addiction – the list goes on. And dealing with them cannot be piecemeal.
Courses need a serious overhaul to make sure that the learning happens without the conventional straitjacketed objectives. The recently acquired skill set of being comfortable with computers and other gadgets should be optimally utilised to revolutionise the education system across the country.
Ours is a young population; it will absorb these changes and zoom ahead. Let’s use our collective knowledge to make constructive gains and not get carried away by the cataclysmic political roadshow. Ours is a truly secular nation; let it not get marred by election-time jingoism.
This is the time to move ahead rejuvenated. It needs the concerted efforts of the academic community, the parents, and the students – the triumvirate of the development process. For providing a better future for our children, let’s grow up first!
Doesn’t matter how one covers the head, it’s more important to keep our minds open!!
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