Human rights activists have once again appealed to the Maoists to spare all the education centres from any kind of the violent tactics. They have instead urged the insurgents to help run schools as they are just meant to be — peaceful learning abodes. It is true that any kind of violence in schools will result in a mental scar that might hamper the development of the young. The appeal comes on the heels of a school bus in Rupendhi set on fire last Saturday. The dastardly incident is certainly not the first of its kind. Students across the country have been kidnapped, killed and incarcerated by the rebels. Moreover, the recent spate of abduction of students by the Maoist cadres has given rise to fresh concerns about security in the classrooms. However, the saga of classroom insecurity does not stop with the rebels’ abduction spree alone. Schools and colleges have time and again come under the pressure by their own student bodies and this has led to closure of academic institutions on several counts. It matters little what the reason behind locking the classrooms is but violent tactics used in closing the schools do matter a lot. As a result, the follies and foibles of the education department notwithstanding, frequent closure of the academic institutions has primarily been responsible for bringing the country’s educational system on its knees.

In today’s world, education is an essential facet of life, without which, the ideals of a nation will be at peril. If lack of education is a curse on the people, incomplete academic experience, on the other hand, is even more counter productive. This is a lesson which the West learnt well in advance. Even at the heights of insurgency or dissent, classrooms have been conscientiously avoided from being dragged into any kind of conflict. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening in Nepal. Worse, student bodies have gone to great lengths to grind the education system to a halt more frequently than not in the past. For example, the pro-Maoist student wing has announced an indefinite strike in schools and higher secondary schools. The vice-chancellor’s office at the Tribhuvan University was locked out by students of engineering on Monday. While it is true that there might arise a need for exerting pressure on the system to make it pay attention to the legitimate student demands, opting for a complete halt to the educational routine is no doubt antithetical. It becomes all the more acute when violence is brought to the classrooms as it has been happening now in several schools. The Maoists and the protesting students must avoid being myopic in their bid to engulf schools with violence. The education centres should be left to be what they actually are — a peace zone.