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Students during summer 'vacations'

Summer Vacations Karachi, May (The News): Not in the very distant past, the conclusion of the examination season heralded the commencement of vacations with lots of fun and frolic for students.
Everyone seemed to agree that students should be allowed to revel in their freedom to do nothing. Such relaxation after toiling for months and being confinement to their studies was considered to be their reward. However, recent trends suggest that the tendency to celebrate indolence has considerably changed.

We talked to many students just before they appeared for their O' Levels, A' Levels, Secondary School Certificates, Higher Secondary School Certificates as well as university examinations. The discussions revealed that, contrary to the general notion, a majority of students during their 'vacations' planned to join various coaching centres catering to the enhancement of their English and computing knowledge. As a result, they will have little time for recreation even after an exhausting school year.

Most of the students said that they would have to take such classes to be ready for next year's syllabus and some studied for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to be eligible for admission to foreign universities. Added to this is the fact that incessant power outages and the horrific carnage on May 12 have had its toll on these students. They look gloomy and tired - both physically and mentally.

Arham Moiz, who sat for his O-level exams in early May, said he had joined a coaching centre at the NIPA roundabout on the orders of his parents. "They want me to improve my English and then prepare for the IELTS so that I can get a good score. The score is important for to get admission into a British university," Moiz said. "I wanted to spend some time in the mountains of the Northern Areas but I had to change my plans for my parents," he said looking crestfallen. "I am not sure now if the current situation will allow me to even attend the coaching classes.

"The uncertainty and chaos have left me drained of energy. I will take my father in confidence and beseech him for a vacation to a cooler and more serene environment", he said dejectedly.

Arsalan Najam, an HSC examinee, joined a chartered accounting firm on the behest of his father. When asked if he was interested in pursuing a career along these lines, he firmly replied, "Not at all. My father does not want to take any chances. He thinks that I may not be able to get a seat at NED University so an alternative must be prepared for."

Upon enquiring about the subject that interested him, he said, "To be frank, I was interested in studying some discipline of the social sciences. My preference was either English Literature or International Relations. Sometimes, I feel as if I am a robot doing what I am ordered to do. It is disgusting", he groaned. He was also very concerned about the prevailing situation in the metropolis. "I have a premonition that simmering anger among warring factions in Karachi is to come to the surface shortly. I know that my plans will be frustrated if that happens."

Next, this reporter visited a coaching centre near the Gulberg roundabout and met one Sumayya Shahid. She will appear in HSC (Pre-engineering examination) this year and her goal is to get a mechanical engineering degree from a reputable university.

Currently she is getting her Physics and Mathematics polished through coaching. What will she do after the examinations? She giggles. "I will continue to come to the centre. It is for time killing, to avoid the monotony. I convinced my mother that I must learn some computer and graphic designing because it will help me during my engineering studies" she said mirthfully.

In stark contrast to Sumayya, another student from the same centre, who introduced herself as Amna Mujeeb, had something different to say. Confiding about her plans, she said that she is not sure that she will be able to get admission in an engineering university. "I am studying to work as a graphic designer in an advertising firm. It is a precaution against any eventuality. I am the eldest of my siblings and my father is a retired man. I have to assume the role of the bread-earner of my family," she said, her voice devoid of any disappointment.

There are many such students who will join some sort of coaching centre after their examinations, and of course all have different motives. A majority of them will go there to fulfil the whims of their parents, who, in their concern for their children's future, forget that they are, after all, youngsters who need recreation as part of their lives. It also sheds light on the changing psyche of our society which has transitioned from the belief in an equal balance between school work and enjoyment to one that holds unremitting hard work supreme. Recreation in the summertime is viewed as waste of precious time and something that will get in the way of establishing a successful career in the future.

It is time for educationists, sociologists and other stakeholders in the country to get together and devise a system that provides quality education to our children without compelling them to lose their youth in the process.

By Perwez Abdullah
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