Sunday, December 26, 2010

Everything that Glitters is not necessarily Gold

College Blues

After graduating from high school, I was thrilled to get into a college. I was actually taken up by the college life they show in the Hollywood movies: the discussion based classes, flexibility in choosing courses, small class size, research oriented teaching and all other fancy paraphernelia. I knew I had to be there in the US (or EU countries among others) to have all these facilities. And, I knew I was not going to attend any Ivies, so I didn’t expect those facilities here. Even so, I had hoped for a minimum of standards. To my utter disappointment, I found the college a nightmare the very first day.
The saddest part of attending government colleges (besides some) here is the way troubles get the better of you right from early in the morning. I have to wake up before my alarm clock starts ringing and hurriedly hop into a micro bus to reach college. It is not that I wake up late. It’s because if I don’t reach half an hour ahead of time I won’t find a seat in the lecture hall. These halls are so crowded that the lecture is hardly audible to the poor backbenchers. Evere watched a muted movie? That’s what it feels like. And, just when you are having a real bad day you get to know what it is like being a reporter jotting down a political leader’s speech at a mass gathering. Well, isn’t it fun when you are getting the first hand experience of journalism even when you are a science major?

College is very different from high school; it’s a whole new environment. Some students get confused as to what to expect and how to act. Instead of having a counseling department to sort out students’ confusions, there is a department that specialises in another kind of counseling and orientation, a political one. Leaders of the students’ unions are always more than ready to brainwash you politically and involve in their politically motivated activities. The frustrating part is that there is not just a single union, there are at least half a dozen of them. It would have been much better if freshmen were asked to join science clubs, theatre clubs and students’ government body. Agreed, students should be politically aware but can student unions governed by muscle power be accorded credibility? 

Practical classes are considered the very heart of higher studies. Yet, on the contrary practical classes hardly receive the attention and importance that they deserve. Laboratories remind me of a tuckshop store abandoned in the aftermath of a disaster. Labs are the best scapegoats during strikes because everything there is easily breakable. And, the less said about graffiti on the walls of lecture halls and the whole college the better. Pearls of political wisdom and of the socially retarded type like “Take care of your own girlfriend” speak volumes of the motives that drive the flock. Government colleges in Kathmandu are virtually run by the unions as the college administration conveniently disappears after the admission period and lets its presence known only at examination times. Like mysterious gurus from some mythical abyss, the union leaders emerge out of nowhere in one fell swoop and embark on their political career. They are in attendance there, literally, to shore up their political career.

The way I see it, they are driven solely by their obsession to accomplish political tasks and spread their political agenda. The union leaders seem like a different group of people brainwashed by their mother political parties. This explains why they get admitted to colleges but never attend classes. 

Every student enters college with high aspirations. It is the time students think they can change the world or at least be what they always wanted to be. This is the time they should be engaged in academic activities away from any sort of distraction. They are so many things that they need to sort out. They need peers’ support, academic support and a healthy academic environment to mould them into what they always wanted to be.

This was originally appeared on 'Metro' page of The Kathmandu Post. Click here for e-paper view.