That is the only way towards emancipation
During the “period of enlightenment” (1650s to 1780s), there was an unprecedented spread of education in the Europe, because for the first time after the invention of printing press by Gutenberg, education became accessible to everyone equally without any discrimination. We were left far behind as in our part of the world it remained confined to elites who were unwilling to share it with others as they feared it might awaken them and thereby prove counterproductive. Keeping its own people uneducated has been an age old political tool of oppressors as John Clarke has said it rightly, “Powerful people cannot afford to educate the people that they oppress, because once you are truly educated, you will not ask for freedom or power. You will take it.” Tacitly this legacy, in one way or other, still continues here.
The recent order of the government for the closure of coaching centres across the valley for three months, calling them distractions, is also the manifestation of fear which our politicians and bureaucrats have vis-à-vis the growing political awareness among students. It is for this reason our educational institutions are being made scapegoats for everything, authorities are unable to handle or control. It is not the first that they have become targets of government’s high handedness but a trend has emerged now that whenever there is a law and order situation, all educational institutions are being shutdown.
There might be issues with some tuition centres like their location, fee structure, infrastructure, etc. But blaming them entirely and ordering their closure is unjust. It will only add to the disadvantages that we are at compared to our counterparts. Disadvantages in terms of equal opportunities and extra efforts that we have to pay to compete with them.
The success of any institution is based on the hard-won experience and what demonstrably works on the ground, not ideology from above. Also autonomy is a key for the proper functioning of any institution. Government, therefore, should resist micro-managing coaching centres and politicizing education. Instead it’s their duty to preserve what is successful in these institutions and encourage productive partnership between state and private tuition centres.
No responsible state will deny its citizens access to education nor will it close such institutions for them under any circumstances. Even you won’t be able to find any such instance in the history of mankind except once when Hitler closed them for Slavs, an Indo-European ethnic group, during WWII in Poland because he wanted them to be turned into uneducated serfs for German race. Do they want us to become the same?
Educational institutions are boon to the progress of any nation and as such should not be treated as political hotspots for suppressing the voices of dissent. Hitler’s closure of schools didn’t prevent Slavs from educating their children; instead it made them more determined. They opened underground camps for their children and demonstrated to the world that no matter how tyrant a ruler is, he can’t stop you from acquiring education.
There are many human rights violations and other grave issues here as such this order of the government may not appear as the public movement for which it will face problems. But I must tell you it’s the gravest of all. Education not only plays a fundamental part in the transformation of society but is also a key driver of economic success. Right to education, which includes impartial access to educational institutions, is a basic human right and must be preserved and fought for. Therefore, such steps which are intended to undermine this right should not only be condemned but protested as well.