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Educationists question extension of school, college vacations

Srinagar, Mar 4: Prominent educationists in Kashmir have vehemently questioned the government’s move to extend winter vacations in Kashmir schools and colleges stating that the decision is ‘political’ in nature and has nothing to do with weather.
The Governor led administration Saturday extended the winter vacation for colleges and schools till March 11, citing inclement weather as the reason for it to do so.
Prior to it, the winter vacations for colleges, which were scheduled to resume class work on February 12, were extended multiple times and have now been asked to resume classwork from March 11.
Similarly, the date for the opening of schools by the administration has been scheduled to March 11 instead of their routine opening on March 1.
Even though the weather in Kashmir has witnessed some improvement, the decision to extend the vacations has left many wondering about the reason for the move.
Noted educationist Prof A G Madhosh claimed the academic calendar of the Kashmir lacked stability and the decision to extend the holidays was made to avoid student resentment.
“We have favourable weather. The vacations have been extended to ensure graveyard silence in Kashmir,” he said.
Prof Madhosh claimed the decision will seriously impact the career of the students and will enforce changes in the teachings methods of educational institutes.
“They can extend vacation further if they have an apprehension of law and order in the valley. Disturbances in academic calendar are in particular conditioned by political situation and administration is least bothered about the career of our students,” he said.
Interestingly, the extension of vacations happens at a time when the colleges are struggling because of a tight examination schedule triggered by the semester-system introduced a few years ago.
A circular by Kashmir University on Saturday shows how the varsity is struggling to strike a balance between exams and classes.
As per it, the examination of the first semester 2019 batch will be held in the month of June.
For second semester batch 2018, examination will be held in April and fourth semester batch 2017 in June.
The university administration, in the circular, has suggested students to mostly rely on self-study rather than bank upon the classes.
“…They (students) should not ride on the concession of postponement of examination but be prepared for end term examination in trying conditions,” reads the circular.
Asked about the circular, Prof Madhosh said it did not provide any alternative for science students who need practicals.
“How is it possible to hold examination on time when administration unduly extends winter vacations for weeks together? The domestication of education as seen in conflict ridden countries like Bosnia and Chechnya will not benefit students here as a good proportion among them belong to science stream, which requires frequent practical sessions,” Prof Madhosh said.
Former JKBOSE Secretary, Bashir Ahmad Dar said the government’s claim of inclement weather was “indigestible.”
He said there was lack of “understanding” between government and college administration.
“Rains or a bit of cold is nothing new now as weather here has remained same for ages together. Education institutes particularly schools would usually open with the beginning of March irrespective of the condition of the weather. This time the authorities fear that students might protest due to which they give an excuse of inclement weather to benefit the administration,” Dar said.
“If government will keep deciding about vacation then role of the concerned department becomes questionable?” he added.
Dar said extending of the vacation becomes evident with the current situation and closure of schools and colleges in the valley.
“A syllabus for any course is designed after considering the time frame of the academic year, which should be 220 days a year or at least 180 days. The Governor led administration created mayhem by banning a party which is running at least 300 schools and orphanages in the valley,” he said.
A lecturer at one of the Government Colleges in South Kashmir, who did not want to be named, too sensed suspicion behind the extending of winter vacations and said the decision has been taken in view of the apprehension of student revolt against banning of Jamaat-i- Islami and government amendments.
“How is it possible to cover syllabus of any subject when only few months are remaining for the semester examination? It has been a norm for the government to shut colleges since protest shifted to colleges and schools during the last two years,” he said.