Education sector remains in tumult in Kashmir

Looking back at the past 12 months, the education sector in the Valley remained on the edge, with frequent protests, shutdowns and curfews, forcing the closure of schools for months together.
After Hizb commander Burhan Wani’s death on July 8 last year, the academic schedule in schools was adversely hit.
Due to protests, all educational institutions remained closed for five months after July last giving a major setback to the career of the around 15 lakh students. Students were given mass promotion up to Class IX. There were less than 80 working days in schools last year.
Uncertainty looms large as partial shutdowns, curfew and protests continue to date. This year school summer break was also preponed from July 6 to July 16 to keep them closed on the anniversary as there were apprehensions of large-scale protests.
“The situation has become such now that we cannot control anything. My only request from last year has been that schools should be exempted from shutdowns and curfew so that we can continue work,” said Chairman of Private Schools Association Kashmir (PSAK) GN Var.
Var said loss in academics would impact children’s future prospective like national-level exams where it would be difficult for them to compete.

Schools burnt

Burning schools became the focal point of unrest in the last three months. Around 36 schools were either partially or fully damaged in the incidents.
More than 5,000 students have been left without classrooms, besides causing Rs 10 crore infrastructural damages to the education sector, which will take years to rebuild.
“We have completed the estimation of 36 schools and I will be soon submitting the proposal to the Union Government so that they can rebuild rooms,” said State Education Minister Syed Altaf Bukhari.
The Board exams for Classes X and XII triggered a political debate in Kashmir in September last year.
Some demanded delay in exams and some just played politics. However, the government decided to go with the exams after announcing 50 per cent relaxation in syllabus. The exams witnessed 94 per cent attendance on the first day and 99 per cent participation on the second.

Student uprising

After opening of schools in March this year, the April 13 incident of Army vehicle entering Degree College, Pulwama, followed by injury to more than 50 students in clashes, triggered widespread student protests in the Valley. More than 600 students were injured across Kashmir and the government ordered 17 days closure of educational institutions from April 17 to May 31.
It took more than a month to bring calm among students. The incident hampered normal class work in educational institutions.
“The student protests have brought our attention to them. We will ensure that in future students are treated as students. I have told them that if they have any issue they can protest inside the four walls of their institutions,” the minister said.

Challenges ahead

The prevailing turmoil from July last year has brought infinite challenges for education in the Valley. Students are in distress, with fewer options in Kashmir. Many are now flocking to other states to study under a regular work schedule.
The situation continues to be uncertain as the government has hardly taken measures to bring some sequence to the state of confusion in educational institutions. “The year has taught us many lessons. Loss due to closure of schools cannot be fully recovered, but we have to keep the work going without any disturbance,” said the minister
He said they would open counselling cells in all educational institutions to engage youngsters.

Related posts