When the future is lost

Acquiring a degree is not the end of the journey. Neither is it the beginning. Education is a continuous process of learning, re-learning while helping others to climb the ladder of knowledge and information. Teachers, therefore, may be teaching their students but in reality, they are learning from their students every day. Education is a two-way traffic; it is a dialogue. Education presents the students and the teachers with the opportunity to nurture their thoughts, accept their strengths, work on their weaknesses, and then inculcate in others the same seeds to help them evolve. This growth and evolution could be in the form of gaining academic insights or through the development of their personality. Education, therefore, is the foundation on which individuals learn to become better people while adding value to their life and career.
However, at times such a news surfaces that make us lose hope from even the academicians who claim to be the beacon of hope for students. The news of a Ph.D. student, Nadia Ashraf, committing suicide is a case in point. She was a doctoral student at Dr. Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Research at Karachi University. Reports claim that her supervisor was not letting her complete the thesis that made the student lose hope. Media and social media reports and posts state that she was facing family issues and other problems that made her live amid depression. A thorough investigation must be held to understand the causes that led her to commit suicide. It must also be ascertained what role her supervisor played in this regard.
In January 2020, Jessica Small, a 26-year-old Ph.D. student at the University of Kent, United Kingdom, committed suicide. It is reported that the third-year doctoral student was experiencing a toxic environment in the university laboratory. She was being teased for her accent and for not being classy or stylish as compared to her others.
In October 2018, Saifullah Jamali, a student of chemical engineering at the NFC Institute of Engineering and Fertilizer Research (IEFR), Faisalabad, committed suicide. He shot himself in front of the university gates. According to Jamali’s cousin, he could not take the stress of being failed repeatedly by one of his teachers. Moreover, a similar incident occurred in February 2019. Yousaf Pirkani, a third-year student at the Bolan University of Medical and Health Sciences, Quetta, committed suicide after he faced severe mental stress and depression when he failed exams. Reports say he was already facing anxiety because of his educational progress.
Incidents such as these are common around the world. However, much needs to be done to understand the events that transpire not in classrooms but in the students’ minds. Every educational institute, be it a school, college, or a university needs to have a student counselor as well as a psychiatrist. Where a student counselor can give direction to the students who feel lost while pursuing their studies, a psychiatrist can help students overcome the nuisance they face in the form of harassment. At times parents compel their children to take admission to complete a degree program they are not interested to study. Since they are compelled to do so, they do not give in their heart into studying and eventually face hardships.
Furthermore, at times, the students are good in their studies but they are bullied by their colleagues or harassed by their teachers. Such toxic environments exist in educational institutions. At times, the victims get help from their colleagues. However, in many cases, by the time they get help, it is already too late. Teachers must be thought how to be considerate of the feelings of their students. The road to education and higher studies must be filled with passion to acquire knowledge, curiosity to know the unknown, and discover what is present beyond textbooks. However, when teachers are not aware of how to teach and are unable to decipher the sadness and agony in their students’ eyes then precious lives are lost. A teacher must give their students comfort to grow. Otherwise, when teachers annoy their students in any form – especially when becoming a hindrance in completing their studies, then students have no choice but to take the drastic decision that ends their suffering while leaving their family and friends in tatters.

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