Azad Hussain

Students, the worst sufferers

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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.

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