Can education become conflict neutral in 2020?

Srinagar: WITH STORY " JK SCHOOLS" - A group of students preparing for Class 10th board examinations at home in Srinagar on Tuesday,Oct 22, 2019. Schools have remained closed in Kashmir since August 05 after the abrogation of Article 370 but education department is going to conduct board examinations as per schedule. PTI Photo by Umar Ganie

Srinagar, Dec 31: Clamour is growing for making education conflict neutral in 2020.

 For the last few years education has become the biggest casualty of the conflict in Kashmir. Frequent closure of schools and educational institutions has left students in a fix. 

Post August 5, students lost more than 150 days of classwork in the academic calendar. There are 250 days in the academic calendar in Kashmir. Of which 100 days of class work have been lost due to the prevailing situation.

Add Sundays and other holidays to the list, there were less than 100 days when students could attend the classes in the academic year.  Plus, government announced closure of schools and colleges following the abrogation of Article 370.

 “Conflict in Kashmir is nothing new to us. Our studies continue to suffer. Every year we witness clampdown that extends for months together. Is J&K government raising a generation of illiterates?” asked Ajra Wani, Phd Scholar at Kashmir University

Zoha Bhat, computer engineering student at Kashmir Government Polytechnic College said they hope 2020 will prove productive as far as education is concerned. “The home assignments that were given to us in 2019 proved disaster when it comes to technical education. Engineering relies on practical rather than theory.  Plus due to internet gag, our concepts were not clear,” she said.

Basharat Ahmad, a parent, said there should be a complete policy overhaul in the education sector to make it conflict neutral. “In 2020 there should be no summer vacations. Gazetted holidays too should be done away with in the academic calendar. Education should be kept at arm’s length from politics,” he said.

Another parent, Manzoor Ahmad said examinations conducted at homes were not fair enough to promote students to the next class. “Our children have been suffering from years now. We want conflict in Kashmir should be kept aside and students should have right to study without fear,” he said.

Educationists have suggested that the government should frame “strong strategy” to make education conflict neutral.

“Education poses a bigger challenge to the administration in 2020. In 2019 students were promoted to next class without completing their syllabus. Children, who are in their next classes, are full of deficiencies,” said Bashir Ahmad Dar, a noted educationist of the valley.

Dar noted that administration should ensure proper functioning of educational institutions in the valley. “And they should take adequate steps to build conducive environment for healthy teaching and learning process”, he said.

Director, Department of School Education, Kashmir, Younis Malik said they are framing academic calendar 2020 to make up for the losses of 2019.

“In 2020 academic calendar there will around 240 days of classwork. The administration will make sure that proper functioning of schools will take place,” said Malik.

Director, School Education, said government has arranged 10 winter camps in each zone from class 3rd to 7th where students will be engaged in the learning process. “For classes 8th to 12th, winter tutorials have been established as per the demand”, he said

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