Educational institutes in particular the universities are supposed to be a place of free thinking where students gain confidence and prepare themselves for the practical world. But it does not to be the case in Pakistan. One university or the other comes up with a moral code for students every few months.
Just last month, a university in Faisalabad chose to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a ‘Sisters’ Day’ by gifting scarves and abayahs to female students.
That the university administrations do not trust our youth’s judgment in choosing their attire was manifested once again in a notification by the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), in Lahore on Saturday that imposed a dress code for its students and Rs5,000 fine over each violation.
The purported notification made it compulsory for female students to wear a scarf or dupatta while imposing a ban on sleeveless shirts and capri pants.
A UET responsible said the measure is taken to teach a sense of dressing to the students who come from the remote areas.
A former education minister in Punjab had proposed making hijab compulsory. Not only that, he proposed to incentivize wearing of hijab by offering to give extra marks to those who would stick to wearing a scarf.
Numerous such notifications are available that have tried to enforce their own version of decency. Even the length of shirts and shirt-sleeves cannot be left to the good taste of the individual and the sense of a proportion of a tailor. More focus is on girls than the boys, for obvious reasons.
Another university necessitated the use of scarf for girls as the department was in a secluded area and many male teachers happened to be around which effectively means that an ‘inappropriately’ covered female body, seclusion and the presence of a male teacher in the vicinity makes for a potent mix and should not be allowed to happen.
Quality of our education is already known to us. Hardly any university ranks among the top ones in the world. Inquiry and questioning is an alien concept to many. And then we ask why don’t we fare better?