Putting the Education System back on Track

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Education system in the valley has been one of the biggest victims of political violence in the valley. Not only were schools and colleges burnt thereby putting a heavy strain on education infrastructure in the valley, but the curfews and shut downs which marked the valley for major part of the last two decades, substantially reduced the time that students would otherwise have spent in attending classes in schools and colleges. Examinations didnÂ’t happen in time, results were delayed and all kind of malpractices began to take root in this situation of political and administrative turmoil.  The quality of education thereby suffered a debilitating blow, which despite the past many years of relative peace, has not regained any of its lost glory.

First things first. The administration has been relatively but moderately been successful in putting some of the lost things back in place. The examinations, for example, are not marred by rampant copying as had become the norm during peak years of violence in the valley. With reduced levels of violence, lesser shut downs and curfews have been announced in the last few years, but one cannot be certain about the situation in the valley. Things can turn volatile in a matter of few days or few weeks. Both, the administration and even the common people should not feel complacent because of this apparent calm. Last year Kashmir not only witnessed more school shutdowns because of real or even assumed political upheavals, but also because of a natural disaster. Students not only lost valuable time but the education system again suffered heavy losses to its infrastructure.

Given this precarious situation, the State Govt should take a serious note of its roles and responsibilities in setting things right. It has to think, both of short term and long term to improve not only the efficiency of the system but the quality of education. Putting the damaged infrastructure back in place will require both time and resources. The State Govt while not being oblivious of this long term challenge should also focus on short term and immediate goals to bring sense of sanity and confidence back into the system. It can take some steps which neither consume resources nor time to make things better and improve efficiency in the system. These steps will not show the seriousness of the administration and its desire to improve things but will also show that it is willing to think out of the box and use common sense to deliver better results.

The schools and colleges remained closed for the better part of last year and resumed normal working in the beginning of April this year after remaining closed for seven months continuously. Having lost precious time, the only way for students to regain a part of that is if the schools are opened one hour prior to their regular opening time and closed half an hour after the normal scheduled time. This will give 90 extra minutes every day to the students. Assuming the schools remain open for the next six months before the start of examination session, this additional time will give students about 39 six hour school days. Besides this, the Govt should not close schools this year for the summer vacations and also declare them open for gazetted holidays, barring Eid and August 15. Even on Eid ul Adha, schools should remain closed only for one day. These measures would not only help students to regain some of the lost time, but also help the academic session in the valley come back to  its previous schedule where exams are held before the start of the winter vacations.

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