Military leadership training is such a vague description for the newest addition to the university curricula, which will commence on May 23, in numerous army camps islandwide. The proposed training programme is supposed to discipline the first-year undergraduates while boosting their confidence.
According to the authorities, the training has no strings attached to the military whatsoever, other than the venue and the routine that would be enforced on the trainees during the course.
Neither the Minister nor his Ministry had a clear plan of what it would turn out to be, when he let the cat out of the bag in January this year, by saying that three-week military training would be made mandatory for the students who would enroll into universities. The beginning being thus, the quality of the programme is already questioned as the training for the instructors of the the so-called training programme only started last Friday, not even two weeks before the big day.
If the said course emerged as a result of lack of discipline among the university students, the question as to why did the authorities wait till the students reach the university level to re-process their discipline, is very much worth pursuing. Shouldn’t disciplining be included in the objectives of grade 1-5 curricula when it is psychologically effortless to change the mind of a six-year-old and feed morality into his brain. This would have been the very thing, if taught and learnt properly, the religion could do to enhance discipline. By the time the students reach the university level, they have long ceased to be children and it is impossible to uproot the attitudes they have been nurturing for so long.
The general outcry has been that English and IT are more essential components that have to come up in the priority lists. The eyes of the public are blindfolded so as to avoid the questions regarding course content and type of training, which the authorities are indistinct about.
The talk of giving each of the trainees a laptop and an internet connection at the end of the training, seems to be the catch. It seems like a lame attempt to plaster the opposing mouths and lure the students from rural areas.
It is unbelievable that the authorities are monetary stable to spend so much on technology while continuing to sell spine-friendly schoolbags at exorbitant prices. It would have been a more sustainable investment to empower the language and IT labs in the universities, which clearly look less resourceful in the eyes of the authorities who have chosen military establishments and public institutions instead.
If the so-called training is a step towards boasting their self-confidence, the ideal thing would be to give them training in entrepreneurship and management. Not only do they lack the confidence to reach out and find their own way as graduates but also they do tend to depend on the government in finding employment. After all, the one-month training does not secure their places in the military forces!
In case, the leadership component of the training recommends training on arms what guarantee does it give that the students will not make use of their newly gained knowledge when their peaceful demonstrations border on violence. After all, politicization of student activities is a more acute issue that needs a solution beyond the band-aid remedies.
The issue, as to how ethical it is to make a residential training in a military establishment compulsory, needs to be addressed immediately. After all, free education should be free enough to leave the ultimate choice in the hands of the parents and students.
A field such as education that talks directly to the psychology of the next generation should not take the form of levying taxes or issuing arrest warrants. After all, enforcement is a clear sign of suppression.
If they are not mere words of wooing, laptop with internet is clearly something to go for, if only the venue was other than a military establishment.