Students all around Punjab are protesting against the decision by universities to hold on-campus exams.
Currently, students of the University of Management and Technology (UMT) are protesting in front of the Governor House in Lahore to demand the reversal of this decision. Students are arguing that only does the decision neglects the potential dangers to students’ health by calling the entire student body on campus, but it also puts students and their families under a financial strain to pay for hostels and transport during a time when 17.07 million Pakistani households have seen a rapid decrease in household incomes.
As of the latest reports, there are active protests by students of UMT, PMAS Arid Agriculture University in Rawalpindi, and National Universities of Modern Languages (NUML). The UMT protesters in Lahore have refused to negotiate with university administration and demand negotiations with the Education Minister and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), whereas, the NUML students are currently in negotiations with the university administration. The NUML students have currently blocked the Islamabad/Inter Junction Principal (IJP) Road.
The protests have also gained more momentum due to the recent case of suicide by a student of UMT in Lahore, which according to initial media reports was due to academic pressure and university policies. Shehzad Sheikh, one of the leading voices in these protests shared screenshots on his Twitter handle, claiming that NUML was targeting its students who are leading the protests.
The Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC) and the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) will hold a meeting today to review the COVID-19 situation and decide whether to reopen educational institutions in Pakistan as scheduled. A meeting was also held on last Thursday, but no decision was taken.
The IPEMC on January 4 announced the reopening of educational institutions in phases, starting from January 18.
The hashtags #StudentswantOnlineExams and #StudentsRejectPhysicalExams trended as the top 2 trend on Pakistani Twitter all day and now stand as the second and fourth most popular trend.