During my two years of A-levels, I noticed that students from more established educational institutes had a tendency to diss — a colloquial term for showing disrespect — nascent schools and colleges.
For instance, recently at a get together, when I inquired of my friend whether her younger sister was joining my high school, she asserted bluntly, “I would never let my sister go to ‘that’ college.” When I asked for the reasons for her adamant refusal to let her sister join that particular high school, she didn’t have a substantial reply.
This specific high school is often ridiculed by students from some of the more recognised colleges in Karachi. Nevertheless, it is one of the best, in terms of educational standards. In fact, discrepancy in educational standards is hardly the cause of such disdain against nascent colleges.
Sadly enough, this scribe has observed a strong trend of bigoted and unwarranted attacks at any new institute. Even though everyone has the right of freedom of speech, there is a fine line between that and an offensive diatribe.
Case in point: A recent blog post written by a student of a supposedly ‘elite’ school, criticising the management of a new college. Such a myopic viewpoint, which is typically held by many students nowadays, is definitely disheartening, especially since it fails to discern that ‘aberrant’ institutes also have good aspects. What is more disturbing is that this condescension is not only prevalent on high school level, but is even more prominent at the university level.
On August 14, a post featured on The Express Tribune blog by Gibran Ashraf titled ‘10 reasons why Karachi University is better than LUMS’ prompted over 200 comments. Ninety per cent of those comments were replete with insults for one of the institutes and for the writer. Such articles are an entertaining read but they reflect the narrow-minded mindset of our ‘educated’ adolescents, who feel good by undermining others.
The only sane remark amongst the deluge of comments was by Muhammad Abdullah, who remarked:
“Here you go. Now we all will fight on educational institutions and bring shame to ourselves by discussing which is the best. Don’t forget the contributions of each institution to Pakistan, where majority of the people are illiterate. Institutions are seldom built and there are very few good ones. Instead of writing on ways to increase knowledge and education among people, you are writing something that will initiate hundreds of comments filled with mockery and ridicule. Grow up buddy. Both of the institutions are the best because they provide something not very common in Pakistan.’’
Moreover, consider the example of the popular ‘Tips’, which every Pakistani university has for itself on Facebook. While students have a right to express their pride in their institution, it is just unnecessary to patronise another institute to prove your own school’s mettle.
Why is there a desperate need amongst students to assert their institution’s superiority? Why is there a baffling obsession among our youth to stay on top by putting others down?
This perennial streak of dissing is more than just harmless enjoyment or a simple pleasure of winning an argument. It alludes to our deep-seated psyche of intolerance.
By not appreciating the diversity of other educational institutes, we are actually showing how divided we are as a people. We need to finally start acting as the educated individuals with open minds we proudly consider ourselves to be.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2011.