By Fida Firdous

Education becomes the first casualty in a strife torn region like Kashmir. When any untoward incident happens, schools, our Gurukuls, are shut with immediate effect. There is nothing painful than shutting your temples of brilliance.

This is very unfortunate. Covid Crisis added insult to the injury to the already obsolete and fractured education system in Kashmir. Officially, Since Aug 04, 2019, our schools, resumed their classes for 14 days only. Imagine a school-going kid, is hand-cuffed, he wants to learn but he is able to attend the school for just two weeks.
 
Pandemic changed the pattern of living across the globe. Kashmir is no option. In Northern part of Kashmir, frontier district Kupwara turned out to be an awesome exception when it comes on various fronts. Both developed and third world countries invest a fair share of the state exchequer on education and classroom activities. But visiting classrooms is strictly prohibited, at least till this deadly disease withers from the planet earth. But Internet is magic. Virtual world is a miracle. Physically, we live poles apart but digitally we are very close to each other, we are nearer yet so far. Thanks to Zoom App and Google meet. With throttled, lazy and painful internet access available to our pupil-teachers and learners, we managed to do whatever we could. We exhausted all the available options to the extent. It is really incredible to see how the education department in Kupwara did something unthinkable. I was personally monitoring how our teachers and administration at the district level made sure to reach out to almost every far-off area to educate even the “under-privileged” students. As parents, we should appreciate their sincere efforts to keep the show going despite severe risks.
 
Despite no high-speed internet connectivity, online education through YouTube lectures, WhatsApp voice notes was pumped to learners in border areas of this aspirational district. Kupwara, off-late, is emerging as the education hub. We are producing big guns and top-notch contributors who are serving the society selflessly. I don’t want to brag about the decreasing rate of drop-out or the increasing literacy rate and the uncountable success stories we are scripting but I am very positive about the growth graph.
 
Education department tried to execute various methods of this alternate mode of education, soon after the crisis began, but there were several loopholes as well. The gaps could be addressed on priority and on war-footing basis. Anyway, better late than never. Quick tutorials, assignments, webinars are some of the examples where students were engaged to help them make their homebound period productive. Otherwise mentally drained, this was a small contribution of many of our dedicated teachers. Masjid loudspeakers were for announcement. Teachers convince parents and gathered students for open-air classes without any pomp and show. In Srinagar, such efforts were lauded and highlighted by the local media houses, operating from the immediate neighborhood but who cares if teachers do the same in a remote hamlet of Kupwara. He/she is not acknowledged by our media men, who are more into arm chair journalism now. The set of data released by the department sheds light on the progress being made and how different districts in terms of statistics, have performed.
 
With relatively backward outlook, Kupwara has performed far better than any other districts in the valley. As per the statistical data with the department among total of 37762 participants of class 10th online assignment 7443 students belonged to district Kupwara, followed by 6320 from Baramulla and 5061 from Anantnag. With 1439 post clubbed institutions, the highest in the valley, the district’s Chief Educational Officer has managed to link total of 1303 institutions for online teaching, again the highest in the valley. The district, as per the given records, has been able to engage 8036 teachers for looking after 1070038 students from Primary to secondary level. However, the online attendance reported by the students stands at 50%, although not enough but for sure the highest in the valley. 
 
However, there’re reasons for less participation of students, one of the obvious factors is non availability of internet devices due to lower level income and lack of states will to facilitate those who are left behind in online learning structure. It’s therefore essential to address this aspect of the problem a d identify the ways to ensure the maximum participation. Nevertheless, nothing of it takes away the credit from all those people working to make this much possible with little over than nothing at their hands. 
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