A Winter of Discontent: Kashmir’s School Children Face the Chill of Inadequate Infrastructure
As the icy grip of winter tightens around Kashmir, casting a pall of frost over its picturesque landscapes, a parallel crisis unfolds within the walls of its educational institutions. School children, the future torchbearers of this vibrant region, find themselves shivering in the cold, their struggles exacerbated by the glaring inadequacies of school infrastructure.
Over the past few days, temperatures across Kashmir have plummeted significantly, plunging well below the seasonal averages. This unexpected early onset of winter has caught many off guard, particularly the young school children who are forced to brave the biting cold as they make their way to school.
Despite the challenging conditions, the government has yet to make any official announcement regarding winter vacations, leaving parents and stakeholders alike concerned about the well-being of their children. The lingering silence from the authorities has only amplified the frustration among parents, who are witnessing their children struggle against the harsh elements.
The primary concern lies in the lack of adequate heating facilities in schools. Classrooms and common areas remain uncomfortably cold, providing little respite from the frigid temperatures outside. This has led to students being cramped into fewer classrooms, further compounding their discomfort.
Parents are understandably worried about the adverse impact this situation is having on their children’s health and academic performance. Exposure to prolonged periods of cold can have detrimental effects on respiratory health, and the inability to focus in such an environment can hinder their learning.
“The Director School Education Kashmir recently made a statement that they need to complete 220 academic days of the session. But it seems that he is not aware of the ground situation. The students are shivering in schools,” remarked Iqbal Ahmad Najar, a parent from Baramulla whose children attend a government school.
Najar’s sentiments echo the concerns of many parents who feel that the authorities are prioritizing academic requirements over the immediate well-being of their children. The lack of precautionary measures being taken at schools to safeguard the students from the cold further compounds their anxieties.
Traditionally, the School Education Department (SED) announces winter vacations in a phased manner, starting from December. Last year, the winter vacation schedule was divided into three phases, with students from lower classes being given the first break.
However, given the abrupt change in weather conditions this year, parents are calling for an early announcement of winter vacations, particularly for pre-primary classes. The early onset of winter has made it extremely difficult for younger children to brave the cold, and parents fear that prolonged exposure could compromise their health.
“The government should announce winter vacation for pre-primary classes,” urged Imtiyaz Lone, a parent from Sopore. “It is really challenging for small kids to move out in the morning for school.”
Despite the urgency of the situation, the government has yet to respond to the pleas from parents and stakeholders. Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Rajiv Rai Batnagar, has acknowledged that he has not received any proposal regarding winter vacations, indicating that the matter is not being given the due priority it deserves.
The prevailing situation in Kashmir’s schools highlights the need for a more proactive and responsive approach from the authorities. The well-being of children should be paramount, and decisions regarding winter vacations should be made on the basis of the prevailing weather conditions and the impact on their health and education.
As Kashmir prepares to endure the harsh winter months, it is imperative that the government addresses the infrastructure deficiencies in schools and ensures that adequate heating facilities are in place. The future of Kashmir’s children lies in their hands, and it is their responsibility to provide them with a safe and nurturing learning environment, even in the face of adversity.