A student of today is the leader of tomorrow, and if this student is not nurtured and taught correctly, then we can well imagine the future of our country. Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment and yields important development benefits.
The future of a country depends on how well the student is educated; that is why Article 21A has been added to the Indian Constitution by the 86th amendment act (2002) to make basic education free and compulsory for children up to the age of 14 years.
This clearly shows the primary aim of the legislature is to promote education hence promoting literacy and formal education. But how well is this true, especially in higher education, where colleges and universities are demanding hefty amounts almost impossible for the students to pay? Where the choice of the course depends not on the options but on the fee structures?
Colleges and universities have time and again shown reluctance in listening to student voices and increase the fee structures every year. The recent covid-19 pandemic has given us practical examples of this practice being followed by educational institutions.
It is well known to everyone that almost everyone faced financial hardships during Covid lockdowns in 2020-21, therefore to reduce the burden on students, UGC published a notification dated 27th May 2020, thereby asking the educational institutions to reduce the amount of fees to be paid by the students and to accept the fees in instalments.
The ground reality shows that colleges and universities denied the students the right to appear in the examination without the payment of fees. Education has just become a profit earning institution and nothing else. When campus hostels and mess were completely shut during the lockdown, colleges asked students to pay for those services that they didn’t avail of during the academic year 2020-21, and the government was silent.
Who needs to raise their voice? Why do we always wait for some miracles? Why we always wait for some heroes to bring some changes? It is high time to realise that change begins with ‘I’. It is we who will have to speak up for ourselves. Student power is the most potent power.
Students can form formal unions and can make authorities listen to their demands. They can also file a suit in the court of law seeking justice for the violation of the right to education. Students can also write to the higher authorities about the hardships they face on campuses regarding the payment of fees. The government does not listen till we don’t shout. Maximum students have paid the total fees fearing that they won’t be allowed to appear in examinations. Why do we need to pay for services we have not availed of? What are we afraid of? Why are we creating problems for the future of students?
These are the questions we need to think of. We need to act today. Tomorrow will be too late…