All dressed up and?
Published on June 23, 2016

All dressed up and?

All dressed up and?

Why does every youth need to play with his/her life as in a jig saw puzzle to fit in the pieces and make some sense out of it?

Is there a perceptible change in the air? This provocative question can be looked at through various lenses. As an educationist, it is but natural that I would use the lens of education. The party is over and the air of celebration lingers in the air over the superlative performance of our child in the civil service examinations. Adding to this celebratory note is the success of our girl Dr. Ruveda Salam from the remote Farkin village, district Kupwara who made history by becoming the first woman from Kashmir to crack the UPSC examination in 2013, and served as Assistant Commissioner of Police in Chennai. Not resting on her laurels, she went on to clear the UPSC again in 2015 to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming an IAS officer.

Did anyone say that life is easy? The challenges, political disturbances, strikes, curfews, serious stone pelting episodes…the list is endless. Add to this, lack of professional guidance, professional career counselling and general counselling especially for the youth …the quagmire in which our youth are struggling on a day to day basis is pitiable but their courage, determination, grit and indomitable spirit that enables each one of these youngsters to overcome and succeed is highly laudable. Success when achieved after an arduous journey is sweet and all the more sweet when it is our girls for they achieve in environments that are extraordinary.

Family support and encouragement can make or mar. While Ruveda’s father inspired her and gave her confidence, her mother let her focus on academics rather than getting her married off. I don’t say that marriage is not required. Yet many a time, marriage puts a stop to any achievable academics and potential to contribute by the very nature of the terms of engagement. Despite this strong supportive environment, Ruveda wasted time, energy and money by joining the Government Medical College in Srinagar and while an intern cleared the J & K Public Service Commission examination. She quit medicine and joined the state civil services, continuing there for two years before taking the UPSC in 2013. My question is a simple one. Could this not have been avoided if there had been a professional career counselling system in place? Why does every youth need to play with his/her life as in a jig saw puzzle to fit in the pieces and make some sense out of it? Perhaps it is because she is aware of these loop holes in the system that she engages in motivational interactions with the youth and encourages girls to scale new heights, which is commendable since it now a proven that when a girl child is educated she can transform not only her own life, but that of her family, community and country. Deeba Farhat from South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also succeeded in the UPSC 2015 examination being ranked 553rd which is creditable given the background to this success. Losing her father while in Primary School with her mother supporting the family ever since, with a will to do something worthwhile in life, Deeba went on to graduate as an Engineer. Enrolling for the M.Tech, she changed course and wrote the Kashmir Administrative Services examination in 2012, which secured her a Government posting. Not content she went on to crack the IAS in spite of the calamity of floods. Despite losing almost everything, she did not lose faith in herself to achieve or the will to achieve. Listening to her say that success depends on how committed one is towards achieving one’s goal and while it is difficult it is not impossible, our hearts swell with pride at this spirit of our youth.

It is equally noteworthy that we have more and more youth finishing the school leaving examination and graduating out of colleges with degrees. While I take pride in this, the educationist in me refuses to shut out questions. One critical question is what is the subject/s that our youth are opting for? Another question that begs attention is whether these options are actually making our youth employable and as a corollary to this what is the employment prospect for these bright youngsters. Even a casual conversation and interaction with youth yielded the shocking trend of youth desiring only Government jobs and the sad statement “What is the job prospect in the private sector Dr. Saab?” Given that our colleges have been given a boost along with polytechnics nearer homes, other than aspiring for Government jobs what does the youth do? It is easy to sermonise that Government jobs should be the last option as is wont by our elected representatives time and again underlining the deficit that stares at the state and therefore the inability to sustain this model of employment. Also one of the reasons perhaps for late salaries or no salaries for our teachers in Government schools.  What is the Government doing to ensure employment in the private sector? I have yet to hear of campus recruitments happening in a big way or companies making a bee line to set up shop or hire. This is definitely depressing. I for one am not surprised that our youth despite graduating with degrees look for that much secure and comfortable “Government Job” which also explains this mad rush for cracking the civil service examinations and the other lucrative choice of being a teacher in a ‘Government School”. In a sense, the will to work for a living is slowly getting eroded with more and more clamouring for the sedentary, pedantic and leech like life line of the government job attraction. Another worrisome trend is bright toppers of schools choosing to opt out of even this life line compelled by lures to take up causes. Listening to Mohammad Parey talk about his Newton who left home never to return and reason for that step still not known to the father starts an agonising pain in the heart as we now stare at an emptiness of an even graver nature. Inner strength is non-negotiable. My interactions with youth lead me to believe that every single bright star while putting up a mask of bravado is a veritable boiling kettle of confusion caught as they are in conflicting ideas of lifestyle, choices, religion and practices, identities….this list can go on. More than literacy and degrees, our bright stars need a deeper understanding of their own selves and purpose in life. Education is a means to this end, yet we are stuck at the periphery. Along with career counselling, we need more general counselling for our children in our schools. More than children in peaceful areas because the stress of living in strained circumstances has a heavy toll and our children are victims of this. Are we equipping our children to have a high level of inner strength that will dissolve any fear or insecurity through our education? Or are we equipping them only to dress up but nowhere to go?

-         A writer, thinker, published author, and an educationist, Dr. Farooq Ahmad Wasil, is  GLOBALHEAD low cost schools, GEMS Education, Dubai, UAE. He has over 3 decades of experience in the field of education – setting up, operating and managing schools. You can contact him at farooq.wasil@gmail.com

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