Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 10. July 19, 1957
Asia Needs Help : — For Better, for W.U.S
Asia Needs Help :
For Better, for W.U.S.
Asian Universities need help, and they need help desperately. The universities of South-East Asia (to which New Zealand World University Service directs its aid) need books, health servese, and buildings. South East Asia is under-developed and an under-developed country cannot sustain an extensive education programme. Without education development is impossible. Such situations are commonly referred to as vicious circles. If the circle is to be broken, help must come from outside.
Let us be frank: we believe that a world university community is a good thing. A pood thing because it is both an end in itself and a means to an end. On the intrinsic worth we will say little—such worth seems to us obvious. Again, its role as a means to an end—that end being an educated, peaceful and active world community—seems obvious. It is certain that a stable world will not result from ignorance and prejudices dictated by squalor.
Now, because we believe in the value of a world university community, we support W.U.S. (World University Service). Space docs not permit a history of W.U.S. Perhaps the fact that N.Z.U.S.A. has approved it as the channel for student relief from New Zealand is sufficient indication of its integrity and worth. W.U.S. believes in a world university community, and in an attempt to realise this community, it has concentrated on two interdependent objectives:
First, in "the study of university needs and problems with the object of discovering possible solutions in varying contexts." And secondly, in "the provision of funds and material assistance to help implement specific projects designed to meet specific needs." These needs continue to exist because neither the governments concerned, nor the students, possess the resources necessary to satisfy them. The pace of development in Asia is slow. An acceleration can only be achieved by the addition of funds from outside. The inadequate libraries; the inadequate equipment; the inadequate buildings; the inadequate accommodation; the inadequate health services; in fact the inadequate universities will continue to exist for a very long time unless we do something about it.
"Many thousands of students today live under cramped and unhygienic conditions. Some are not lucky enough to obtain even such accommodation and spend their nights on park and railway benches. In all countries where there is an acute housing shortage . . . the student population is hard hit. University hostels attempt to cope with the situation, but the accommodation they can provide is limited and the need is great. To obtain rooms in the city near the university, even in a ramshackle building, is often very expensive, and most students are poor. The result is that those who do not get accommodation in a hostel are forced to shift for themselves as best they can, w;hich usually means obtaining lodgings in unhealthy parts of the urban area and sharing a dilapidated room with several other students.
"This is not all. Most of the students are seriously undernourished, and the food they cat, bought from street hawkers or cheap restaurants, is prepared under the most unhygienic conditions. Their resistance lowered by inadequate nutrition, such students are a prey to all forms of disease, especially under the unhealthy circumstances in which they live .... Adequate housing and nutrition are essential to raise and maintain acceptable standards of student health.
"Apart from destroying a student's present efficiency and future potentialities through undermining his health, poor living conditions also have a more immediate effect on his work. Studying under circumstances where he has no privacy, no place of his own where he can study in peace and quiet, and unsure of how he will continue to maintain himself, and possibly a family too, the student can neither gain the maximum benefit nor gives of his best in his studies and work.
"But again, even with these hardships, he is still luckier than some others. He has at least succeeded in getting on with his studies, even if it is a constant struggle and ever so often despair has to be conquered anew. There are others, often very promising students, who do not have the resources to study and maintain themselves. They could continue to study if cheap housing and eating facilities were available and some little help were forthcoming; but as it is, they are obliged to give up their studies and find a job instead.
"Thousands still go without medical care when they are ill; hundreds die because of the lack of such attention and the shortage of such attention and the shortage of specific drugs and medicines. Malaria, dysentery, epidemics of cholera, smallpox, and typhoid, and other tropical diseases, as well as lodging and living conditions, add to the problem of the area and make needs and inadequacies stand out in stark relief.
"The current need is to support health services already in operation where necessary, to supplement these by opening others, and assist the construction and equipment of new student sanatoria. The high incidence of tuberculosis among students in South East Asia, mainly due to malnutrition and poor living conditions. Also calls for better screening equipment at health centres. If detected in its early stages, the disease can be combatted much more effectively, and both expenses and valuable studying time are saved. Often early detection can mean the difference between life and death."
So much for the general picture. Now for a few specific instances. Many students in South East Asia get no more than 1,800 calories a day, while the basic minimum recommended by nutritionists is 2,600. (Incidentally, the average American college football player consumes 3,800.) Since 1949, the student population in Karachi has more than doubled. In 1955, at Dacca, East Pakistan, nearly 2,000 students were almost literally without a roof to shelter them. When the College of Mandalay re-opened in 1947, the first task of the teaching staff was to paint bare boards black, for there were no blackboards, let alone desks, books and laboratory equipment.
We spoke to Mr. M. F. R. Khan. Colombo Plan scholar and former lecturer and student from Dacca University, to which institution we are directing our aid this year. Mr. Khan was connected with the administration of W.U.S. relief in Dacca, and told us something of this work. It consists mainly in the distribution of second-hand books, and financian assistance to individual students Some 200 of a total university population of 3,000 full-time students receive grants of £6-£10 a year, which enables them to live for over a month in one of the university hostels. And it should be noted that the university provides medical services only for hostel students. Out of the hostel, no free medical service, and this to a student with no financial backing and no job. W.U.S. can help and has helped here, and the part it has played is greatly appreciated by Dacca students.
On Thursday 18 and Friday 19 July, we are offering you an opportunity to help. W.U.S. is holding a collection, by now an annual feature in at least one other New Zealand College. This year we follow this College's example and ask for half-a-crown from every student. It is obvious that many can afford more than this, and that many will give less. A half-crown is not set as an upper or lower limit. It is designed as a focussing aid. We merely ask you to give as much as you are able.
In conclusion, we quote Mr. Vishnu Bhagwan. Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission. Quoting from the preamble of the constitution of UNESCO, he said. "Sincc wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed." He went on to say, "By taking upon itself the education of the youth of today, who represent the leaders of tomorrow. W.U.S. has started laying the foundations of those defences."
—P. A. Stuart (for the V.U.C. W.U.S. Committee.)