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Political Turmoil and Closure of Schools: A norm in Pakistani education


Attending school in the past decade in Pakistan had made one thing clear: any political march, protest or strike would bring with it a school holiday. As crude as it sounds, knowing that Imran Khan is leading an Azadi March to Islamabad or the TLP has blocked the roads, most students could not help but rejoice at the possibility of a "chutii". I am sure that many of us can relate to this sentiment. However, as much as the advent of a holiday sounds relaxing and enjoyable, it does not leave without its consequences. Something I realised in O levels in 2018 when my global perspectives CAIE was indefinitely cancelled last minute while the TLP (Tehreek-Labaik-Pakistan) raged on the streets of Lahore. Not only did it left the students confused but also put strain on the British council to come up with a fair solution. One could give some circumstantial leeway to this one instance yet it has only occurred again and again since then.


Try imagining the consequences on schools following the 9th May incident, especially those in the vicinity of the core commander house. Having witnessed enough militarisation since the APS attack coupled with widespread civilian unrest called for an immediate closure of all schools. Again, CAIESs were cancelled, annual exams were postponed and all those students who were either in the process of appearing for exams or preparing for them were thoroughly disturbed. Amidst all these occurrences, school closure within times of political turmoil is nothing new in Pakistan. It is if anything increasing exponentially as political instability brings Pakistan to a chokehold. This calls for prompt questioning. What are the consequences of all these unprecendented holidays? How does it impact exam schedules and syllabus completion? Especially in terms of high school exams, does it have an impact on the admissions process and most importantly on the mental health of students?


There is no doubt in the fact that the answer to most of these questions is a big yes. With all these unannounced holidays particularly due to political unrest, exams are shifted or cancelled leaving students dazed. Some rely on one or two components for a grade, disturbing their entire trajectory of obtaining higher marks and ultimately increasing their stress levels. For students as well as teachers, it is an equally testing time. With such off days in the calendar, there is not enough time to complete the entire syllabus in the predetermined span of time thus leading to rescheduling and cramming of material, impacting the transmission of educational knowledge. Examination boards such as the British council get equally perplexed while trying to find a fair solution for kids amongst no exams, how do they judge their performances? Amidst violence and unrest then, it is easy to close down schools however dealing with the impacts of this closure serves as a big challenge to both the students and the teachers alike.



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Neiha A. Siddiqui
Neiha A. Siddiqui
Dec 01, 2023

Recognizing the difficulties encountered by both children and teachers as a result of school closures leads to a more comprehensive understanding of the situation. The personal touch of narrating your experience during the cancelation of the Global Perspectives CAIE test in 2018 gives a whole new level of credibility to your story. I recall when this actually happened and everyone at my school was HAPPY. It baffles me how much of a norm this is in our country, for our nation. I hope this changes but truly how does one even start a fruitful conversation on such subjects?

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Your insight into the consequences of frequent school closures due to political unrest in Pakistan is thought-provoking. The disruption in exam schedules, the strain on educational boards, and the subsequent impact on students' mental health are crucial issues that need attention. The challenges posed to both students and teachers in terms of syllabus completion and fair evaluation are indicative of a larger problem in maintaining the stability of the education system amidst political turmoil. Addressing these issues is essential to ensure a more consistent and less stressful learning environment for students in Pakistan.

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Thank you for your engagement, Burhan! I personally cannot see any straightforward solution to save students from the brunt of political unrest which is very unfortunate. What matters I believe is that these concerns must be voiced. There must be protests from teachers and students alike to at least let the state know that there is an undetermined consequence to this turmoil which are innocent students.

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Your insightful analysis of the consequences of frequent school closures in Pakistan due to political unrest provides a compelling perspective on the challenges faced by students and teachers. The personal experiences and examples, such as the CAIE cancellations during the Tehreek-Labaik-Pakistan protests, are relatable to most of us. The impact on exam schedules, syllabus completion, and the mental well-being of students resonate deeply. I believe that it is time to reflect on the broader implications of political unrest on the education system, highlighting the need for a closer examination of these long-term effects. What do you think some of the ways to deal with this are?


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Thank you for engaging with the blog, Aliya! I believe that one way to combat this is protests by both teachers and students, Often times, the prospect of a holiday is lucrative enough to trick students into accepting it. However, if they realise the risks involved in terms of exam cancelations and workload, then it would be best to protest against these marches by hitting the streets. It might seem quite inadequate in front of a political march yet it is important to voice our concerns and let the leaders know what the far reaching consequences of their political actions are.

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Hi Sarwat! I'm really glad someone else brought this up too. In my own blog I talk about how MQM's demonstration of civil disobedience would always lead to regular shut down of school's in Karachi. It is rather unfortunate that students from various cities across Pakistan can relate to the unexpected "chuttis." It is heartbreaking that we do not have to imagine the consequences of 9th May because we have already witnessed them. I can personally vouch for how my cousins were coupled with extreme anxiety wondering if they're CIES will get cancelled - and the did. Months of hard work went down the drain and their grades were based on one component they were fortunate enough to appear for.…

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absolutely, I agree with everything that you have mentioned eesha. Having witnessed my own CIES getting cancelled and the panic and anxiety that ensued, I was prompted to write this blog. In a country where students already have to deal with alot of obstacles be it technological, load shedding, dangerous levels of smog, political turmoil unfortunately also adds another layer of difficulty.

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