Students across Pakistan started marching for better education facilities in the country, safety, and restoration of student unions. The Students Solidarity March 2021 has been organized by the Progressive Students Collective in different cities of Pakistan including Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Multan, Hyderabad, Quetta, and Gilgit.
The march is mostly against the unconstitutional ban on Student Unions in Pakistan among other unfair circumstances that students face. The students took to the streets, holding red flags with the banner of famous Indian revolutionary, Bhagat Singh.
Student Union culture serves as the regulating body between the students and authorities to ensure that students’ concerns are properly managed. Since forming unions has been made impossible, students don’t have a platform to voice their concerns regarding different matters.
Student Solidarity March 2021 Demands Voices be Heard
According to members of Student Solidarity March 2021, they are forced to take this problem to the street because students are required to sign a controversial affidavit before getting admission to most institutions.
The agreement restricts them from joining any union, taking part in politics, or holding protests of any kind on campus, whereas the law allows no official ban on such activities. Students are concerned that they have no platform anymore to voice their concerns which is why they are marching.
Women students are protesting against on-campus harassment as recently, there were hidden cameras installed in a women’s washroom in one university. Women were shocked that why no one talked about it as it was a huge matter and institutions were supposed to ensure students’ safety.
Students in Balochistan have been protesting for more than 20 days against the forced disappearance of students from the University of Balochistan. Students questioned why their rights were not protected in Balochistan, which was known for its exceptional security.
What Are Students Demanding?
The demands of Student Solidarity March 2021 include; removing unfair restrictions on student unions, ending harassment and humiliation of students on campus, allowing students representation in decision-making departments of institutions, taking action against recent fee hikes in several public sector institutions, increasing the education budget to at least 5% of the total GDP, building and developing new educational institutes in rural and remote areas, promoting freedom of speech, thought, and expression within institutions, taking action against institutional bias towards minority students coming from outside Punjab, ending Baloch and Pashtun students mistreatment by hands of management, and removing hate-mongering and discriminatory material from the academic curriculum.
Voices of Students Have Been Long Suppressed
Students are the most vital part of any society and unfortunately in Pakistan, they have to face a lot of mistreatments. Movements like Student Solidarity March 2021 are like a ray of hope for the revival of student unions through activism. This is the second edition of the march after it came out first in 2019 to voice the same concerns. As it is clear, their demands are still not met but they continue to march until they do. It could not be held last year because of COVID and lockdown in Pakistan