The first selfie—pouted lips, one eyebrow raised—just reappeared on my Facebook news feed. I’m waiting for the photos of ‘lunch’ to follow. After a week of sloganeering, social media is gradually recovering from the Election. Even the wilder Junoonis are coming home to deposit their reds, whites and greens into the laundry baskets. We’re tuning out to resume work in the offices and the kitchens. Our kids are finally looking at that exam date sheet. Those levels of adrenaline are hard to sustain. Across the country, one after the other, we’re all trying to find our Normal.
Guess what we’re finding? Our Normal is not quite where we left it before this election. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our schools. Elections 2013 has changed Pakistan but it might have made its biggest impact on tomorrow’s electorate: children under eighteen. They’ve been watching us. They rode on their mothers’ hips, held their fathers’ hands, all the way through polling stations. They were dancing at the dharnas.
What we don’t realize when we lambast PTI Trolls on social media for being immature and emotional is—some of the most unrelenting of these Trolls are not quite 18. They have ipods and ipads, Twitter and Facebook accounts, mobile internet. They can troll and meme the nerves off anyone in the ‘voting age’ and its no use waiting for Imran to call out from his hospital bed to tell them to stop it (he probably won’t) and they’re having way too much fun to stop on their own.
A staggering 40 million of today’s children will enter the pool of eligible voters en masse in 2018. While the new government will be thinking of Big, Serious Issues--Kashmir, load-shedding, inflation--the teachers and parents of this country face the Mother of all Questions: How do we educate tomorrow’s little burgers?
Since we’re having this discussion in English over the internet, I can safely assume that you are a fellow burger but you and I are by no means exclusive. The burger child hails from a burgeoning spectrum that begins in the lower middle-class and ends at the other, extreme affluent end. Many are enrolled at schools that their (not-so-burger) parents struggle-yet-somehow-manage to afford.
Regardless of whether they go to posh private schools or lesser, public ones, this election has revealed a crying need to evaluate what we are teaching urban youth in the name of civic rights and duties.
What Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions do burger children need to attain to be prepared for Election 2018?
If you had to devise a curriculum for what to teach them, what would you put in there first?