Protests and Education: Examining the Negative Impacts on Learning and Academic Schedules

On May 9, 2023, Pakistan witnessed a chaotic scene when Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister, was arrested by the anti-corruption agency at the Islamabad High Court. The arrest of a prominent political figure often triggered large-scale protests, and this was no exception. As clashes erupted between Khan supporters and the police, one protester lost their life. The impact of such protests is felt across all aspects of society, including education, with exams scheduled for May 10 being postponed indefinitely.

Protests and Education: The Negative Impacts

The postponement of exams is just one of the many negative impacts of large-scale protests on education. Schools, colleges, and universities in the affected areas are forced to shut down, causing disruption in academic schedules, which in turn leads to a ripple effect of problems. Some of the most significant negative impacts of protests on education are:

Disruption of the Academic Calendar

When protests occur, educational institutions are often forced to shut down for extended periods. This can delay the completion of syllabi, postponement of exams, and the extension of the academic calendar. The longer the disruption lasts, the more severe the consequences are for students, faculty, and the institution.

Loss of Learning Opportunities

When classes are suspended, students miss out on critical learning opportunities. Even when classes resume, the quality of education is often compromised due to the rushed approach taken to complete the syllabus. Moreover, students often miss co-curricular activities essential for their holistic development.

Damage to Infrastructure

Large-scale protests often result in the destruction of public property, including educational institutions. Schools, colleges, and universities located in the epicentre of the protests are often damaged or destroyed, which can take a long time to repair.

Economic Loss

Protests can have significant economic impacts, leading to a loss of jobs and income for those in the affected areas. This can have a domino effect, decreasing educational funding, scholarships, and other financial assistance.

Examples from the Past

Pakistan has a history of protests and unrest, with the most recent one being in 2019 when the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) staged a series of protests demanding the protection of the rights of Pashtuns. The protests resulted in the shutdown of educational institutions in the affected areas, causing significant disruption to the academic calendar.

Similarly, in 2014, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) staged a long march and sit-in in Islamabad, which led to the postponement of exams and the closure of schools and colleges in the area. The prolonged disruption had severe consequences, leading to a backlog of work that took months to clear.


The impact of large-scale protests on education is undeniable. Not only does it cause disruption to the academic calendar, but it also results in a loss of learning opportunities, damage to infrastructure, and economic loss. Educational institutions are the backbone of any society, and any disruption to their functioning can have far-reaching consequences. It is, therefore, imperative that measures are taken to minimize the impact of protests on education and the academic calendar is protected at all costs.

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