Mushtaq Hurra

An Open Letter to Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor

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An Open Letter to Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor

Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir

Respected sir,

Jammu and Kashmir in general, and Kashmir valley in particular has witnessed some vexatious times during the last three decades. Political turmoil coupled with violence has been a stumbling block in the way of our progression and advancement. Despite possessing extraordinary talent and remarkable potential, the children of this land always crave for necessary platforms, opportunities and avenues. COVID19 pandemic came like a bolt from the blue and proved to be the last nail in the coffin. Though the COVID19 mitigation measures had become inevitable to minimize the loss of life, but, it has begotten new challenges for us. Consequently, life has come to a standstill, because the pandemic has affected the rank and file of Jammu and Kashmir all in sundry.

Economy and other related sectors have a tremendous scope to overcome the damage incurred upon them. Business, banking, tourism and other fields of life are in recovery and restoration mode. But, the mother of all professions viz education is falling prey to the unprecedented COVID19 pandemic. Schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions bear a deserted look. Different offline modes to impart academic instructions to our children are either inadequate or inaccessible to the majority of our children. And online education has its own limitations and aftermaths.

When mature chunk of our populace fail to escape the perils and pitfalls of technological interventions, how can children be an exception to it. The technological advancement has entangled us in the labyrinth of fantasies and obscenity. Parents and elders are badly worried about their children who have become slaves of internet. Consequently, the children have become couch potatoes and sluggards. Excessive internet browsing has not only affected the health of our children, but, has very viciously damaged the moral fabric of our society. Storms of immorality and indecency are about to drown us deep into the deluge of vulgarism, where an escape and a way forward is almost impossible. Our value system is on its last legs. Rage and revenge of internet is slowly becoming evident in our society. Gruesome crimes have become our fate.

Well, the quality of education of our children is diminishing and deteriorating with every passing day after the closure of schools. Though college and university students manage their studies to some extent at home, but, the scenario in our elementary educational sector is icky, ugly and unpalatable. Teachers, intellectuals, elders and parents are extremely worried about the future of our youth and children. Many young children, belonging to downtrodden sections of our society, have almost given up their studies. The prevailing uncertainty has forced many parents to let their children learn some manual skill. Instead of arranging alternate educational and academic opportunities for their children, many parents prefer their children to extend them a helping hand in their earnings and livelihood.

Community classes are no substitute to routine schooling. A good number of the students fail to attend these classes. They either consider it insignificant or bunk it to the apprehension of catching the infection. Two or three hours of class work in open places, hardly stimulates or inspires a student to attend it. Community classes are ventilators which create a lub-dub sound in the chest cavity, but don’t let you walk parallel to a healthy person. And many teachers are less motivated to give their hundred percent in these classes, because the stint is purely a voluntary gesture, not a mandatory one .

It is pertinent to further bring to your kind notice that people are thronging hill-stations and other health resorts in large numbers, without adhering to COVID19 appropriate behaviour. Masses hardly care about face masks and sanitisers in public parks, health resorts, hotels as well as mosques, temples and shrines. Jam-packed marriage parties, with the majority of children and women, are no threat to our collective health. But, schools and other educational institutions are the only places to spread the infection of COVID19 pandemic. Commoners have raised their eyebrows, and call it double dealing. If the children are at risk in schools and other educational institutions, then, why are people allowed to roam freely at different places? We should not let anyone to jeopardize life. When educational institutions will ensure standard operating procedures in place to contain the transmission of the virus, then what hinders people at the helm of affairs to reopen the schools!

Poor and destitute children are facing the brunt of this prolonged closure of schools. Rich and affluent arrange tutors and virtual teaching platforms viz Byjus for their children. But, the children of lesser God are being crushed in the mill of lockdown. These children can’t manage smart phones, tabs and laptops to keep pace with the changing times, because their parents hardly manage to arrange two meals for them. Generations of our future will bear the burden of our indifferences. We must revisit and reconsider our previous perceptions and attitudes. COVID19 pandemic may harm us a little, but, the continuous closure of schools is sure to bring ruins to our future. We may end up with inefficient doctors, engineers and statesmen, if the education of children is not prioritized.

Sir, different state governments and administrative machineries of union territories have begun to restart the academic operations in a staged manner. Our neighboring union territory of Ladakh has taken a bold step to reopen their educational institutions. COVID19 pandemic is almost under control and the daily number of positive cases has come down to three figure mark. We need someone to save our drowning boat and bring it to the safety of a calm shore. And the onus is on you. Any further closure of schools and other educational institutions will ignite the fire of ignorance, gloom, professional inefficiency and superstitions. Please intervene.

With regards,

Mushtaq Hurra

Government Teacher

[email protected]

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