‘Bandwagon effect’ is an expression normally associated with politics. It is a psychological phenomenon in which people resort to something primarily because that’s what ‘’most people” are doing, regardless of their original beliefs.
The term was first introduced in American politics, in 1848, when Dan Rice, a famous circus clown, used his bandwagon while playing music to gain public attention for his political campaign and it sure worked for him.
Here in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Insaf was the first political party who started playing motivational songs at its public rallies to gain public attention – Imran too remained successful in gaining political popularity. Today, almost every political party has jumped on this bandwagon.
It is healthy and beneficial for both political parties and society because it provides a discounted source of entertainment. But it doesn’t mean that this trend would be beneficial in every field of life.
There are many instances that can be laid out in support of this disagreement. However, I will take the education sector, which continually remains a victim of this bandwagon effect.
People generally follow what the majority is, just because it is in trend. Take, for example, the craze of joining medical and engineering fields as professions!
Then there was also a time when the MBA degree was the dream of every student. Thousands of MBA graduates entered the local market but it could not improve the unemployment rate as the market didn’t have the capacity to accommodate them. The romance of our computer graduates with Information Technology is no different.
There was no proper planning on the part of the governments to accommodate large number of business and IT graduates. The result was job insecurity, unemployment, and frustration. People began leaving the country in search of jobs. For the last few years, there is another common trend among students that is getting foreign scholarships. Everyone is crazy to jump on the bandwagon, that is good, but it doesn’t mean we start ignoring our local graduates.
The alarming thing is that many educational institutions have imposed ban on the hiring of local graduates and PhDs as faculty members. We don’t have enough foreign graduates who can fulfill our teachers’ requirements. The policy is widening the gap between local and foreign graduates, both financially as well as opportunity-wise.
Bandwagons often have limited lifetimes and eventually run out of steam. If other educational institutions jump on the bandwagon of hiring only foreign graduates where would the thousands of local graduates go?
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2016.