Of Shutdown(s) and the Educational Dilemma in Kashmir
In light of the fact that education has always and will continue to suffer in a place like Kashmir, we should explore off-school alternatives for our children
Kashmir is famously known for its beauty and for the hospitality of its people. Not only this, it has always been cited as the place of ignited minds whether it be about the poets, writers, scholars or philosophers. Since Kashmir has remained at the peak of intellectualism but at the same time it has witnessed the violence of highest order, unrest, long shutdowns, and most importantly the complete halt of educational sphere. It is ironical that in this modern world of technology Kashmir is hardly accessible to the full fledged techniques whether it be the means of production or the educational transformation. Taking a serious note of Education in Kashmir, the children have been the unluckiest lot in terms of educational development. The Kashmiri students are more institutionalized to the off-school education than to the regular mode of classwork. Precisely, regular schooling is seemingly a non-standard trend in Kashmir since 2016.
In the recent lockdown of Kashmir due to the abrogation of article 370, all the educational institutions remained shut for around seven months. Nearly million students in Kashmir have attended classes for the first time on 24 February this year after 210 days of clampdown. As they were getting back to the brass tacks of schooling it was again hit by another hurdle this time in the form of Coronavirus (COVID 19) on account of which schools were again closed as a precautionary measure to ward off the novel disease. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus. It was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since then spreading globally resulting over thousands of deaths so far.
I personally believe we should take more responsibility than the government into the educational reformation. In times of any shutdown of educational institutions we should go with alternatives rather than depending wholly on schools
This is not for the first time that schools have been shut for months at a stretch in Valley. In 2008, schools remained shut for few couple of months due to turmoil over the Amarnath Land Row and in 2010 over alleged fake encounters and subsequent killings in protests. In 2016, the schools witnessed clampdown from July to March following the killing of Commander Burhan Wani. Whether it be the natural calamity or the uneven cycles of lockdown, the education in Kashmir has remained at the top of severe damage both at individual as well as at state level.
The failure of government in promoting education in Kashmir is sometimes being seen as the reason of occasional shutdowns of education in the valley. Government has never been serious regarding the education sector of Kashmir. On one hand where the world is promoting education through online process and lectures during the epidemic times, on the other the government poignantly is still adamant not to restore 4G internet services for the general good of Kashmiris. As the dispute continues and may continue to any further date, we must switch to alternative modes in terms Education vis-à-vis the children of Kashmir. In other words, education should not be scapegoated either by the politicians or by the state.
As a well-wisher, I personally believe we should take more responsibility than the government into the educational reformation. In times of any shutdown of educational institutions we should go with alternatives rather than depending wholly on schools. The alternatives may be many including the circulation of books. The books circulation should be made popular by every group of educated Kashmiris including the scholars, post-graduates to the graduate fraternity. This will help out a lot of students as well as the society at large. The second step is to take responsibility on the part of seniors to impart education to their respective juniors at mohalla and village level. By this the education can be localised even when the schools and colleges are shut. The third and final step is turning one’s families as schools and elderly family members as teachers. The family needs to be concerned about the education of their wards with ongoing socialization at their homes in times of unrest. The family members are the ones with which these group of students are attached to and none other than the respective family understands them comprehensively.
It is high time for the people of Kashmir to think and ponder up on the educational importance, the career of our school going children and the overall nexus between the education and society. At present it is only the student fraternity who is continuously at the receiving end in terms of their education is concerned. Adequate support and cooperation from the family and society to all students and encouraging them to tackle the problem will surely overcome the repercussions.
The author Sheikh Aatif is pursuing Hons. in Economics at Aligarh Muslim University.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are author’s own and do not reflect the stand or policy of Oracle Opinions.