Students, the worst sufferers
Despite the frequent closure of schools, after every unfortunate and untoward violence related incident, which usually happen in valley, Kashmir is a place where the schools remain closed during winter vacations for a longer period as compared to other parts of the world due to severe chill and heavy-snow fall.
In winter zone of Jammu and Kashmir, usually, the schools and colleges get closed in the month of December and reopen in the month of March every year. We have an experience that some times, due to heavy snowfalls and unending bad weather conditions, government extends winter vacations up to the Mid-March.
So the winter season in Kashmir which is good for Kashmiris, when looking from agricultural point of view, puts the students away from schools for a very long period.
This year the season was not so bad during the winter months, so the arrangements for reopening of schools were in full pace even from the last week of February. Teachers were asked to resume their duties from February 26, to make all necessary arrangements for their students who were asked to attend schools from March 5th.
Teachers were asked by higher authorities of the department to celebrate first day in the schools as a welcome day for children, to keep students in a happy mood at the very first day in the schools after the vacations.
The parents also had arranged new uniforms, bags, and other requirements for their children to start their new academic session well , after a long break of three months. Both parents and the students were excited.
Although, mostly the students prefer to be at home to enjoy vacations than to remain bound in schools. But when it comes to long winter vacations in Kashmir, the students like to come out of their warm rooms in March and happily enjoy a new and pleasant school season.
So like their parents, the students too were curious to meet their classmate friends after a long winter gap, to have a fun with them. They were eagerly waiting for schooling season.
However, the promised day came but neither the schools were open nor were any welcomes held.
It again reminded us the unfortunate plight and apathy of Kashmiris. When all the preparations for reopening of schools were in a final stage, suddenly a bad and heart wrenching news of killing of several innocents by security persons in district Shopian came to surface. All those happy and curious hopes to enjoy first day in schools, turned into the mournful moment of grief and sorrow for all the students and the teachers.
As it was their compulsion to avoid the protests, the government immediately extended the winter break for some more days, not due to the heavy snow fall which often becomes the reason for extension of winter break, but this time it was due to heavy blood bath of innocent civilians in Shopian.
As, the well beginning is half done, this beginning of students for new session turned to be unwell as the schools couldn't reopen in a peaceful atmosphere.
This is just an example that how, like every sector in Kashmir, the education sector also suffers due to unending violence. It is a routine thing that whenever such kinds of episodes do happen here, the first announcement which comes through media is "schools will remain closed to maintain law and order and to avoid any untoward incident". Each time such unfortunate incidents occur, the schooling is the first victim.
The academic session suffered in the year 2016. The schools remained closed for almost seven month's including three month's winter break. Later, the government took a decision to give mass promotion to students up to class eighth "to promote them to next higher class without examination". Before that a mass promotion to students was also given in 2014 after a natural calamity of floods hit the valley and became the cause for closure of schools.
However, from a couple of years, government took a decision to start winter tuitions which are offered by education department free of cost. It was the Ex-Education Minister Nayeem Akhter who gave the nod to this idea. Though students anyhow attend tuitions during winters but this time, those who chose to avail government facility, saved some too.
Since decades we have been witnessing violence and human rights violations and subsequently the closure of schools. All concerned, be it the government, education department, students, parents and most importantly politicians need to take this issue seriously. In this universe, every question has an answer and therefore the question that what kind of measure can help overcome the academic deficiencies too is having some answer. We as a society will have to ponder upon and find that answer. We can’t go on closing down schools all the time. It may ruin our future because today’s students are tomorrow’s nation builders.