‘Kashmir’s Educational Scenario Is Really Endangered’

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Prof. AG Madhosh

AS Kashmiri students remain out of their schools for a year now, many suggestions and takes of how to revamp the lockdown-hit education sector of the valley are being discussed and debated right now.

Joining the debate, on the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and its ramifications in Kashmir, prominent educationist, Prof. AG Madhosh, shares his precise expert take with Kashmir Observer in an exclusive chat.

Kashmir Observer: In a devastating double blow, first the clampdown and then the lockdown, education has been the worst hit. Schools and colleges functioned for barely 100 days between 2019 and 2020. What does this mean for the future of education in Kashmir?

Prof. Madhosh: I don’t want to give you future shocks, but, yes, our educational scenario is really endangered.

KO: Given your background and contribution to the education system of Jammu & Kashmir, you have seen different crisis in education here. How would you characterize this period in J&K’s education system?

PM: This period is overwhelming, and has rendered us target-less, with no conceivable directions.

KO: How has global education been impacted by the Covid-19 Pandemic?

PM: No big losses globally. The world has shifted to personalized and individualistic instructional strategies much earlier than the present outbreak.

KO: What are the residual impacts that can come for a community when you have schools closed so long?

PM: A dreadful question. The commodities may deal themselves from all cultural goods including education. With a strong material substance, education may find its strategic ways of survival.

KO: With children losing out on education, how do you think frequent and long school closures could impact future workforce for generations?

PM: Future workforce may need only a strong skill-based training, distant from formal schooling.

KO: How long do you think it will take for the education to recover after the pandemic passes and schools open?

PM: Non creative, traditionally established educational systems take much less time to come back on tracks.

KO: What should the government do in the face of this education paralysis to support the education system in J&K?

PM: Government must play its role as seems to be well defined.

KO: How do you think we as a lockdown-battered community can cultivate the right education ecosystem post Covid-19 to mitigate the impact of lost time and prevent an education crisis?

PM: Please don’t panic and stress your children now for an unseen future.

KO: Covid has changed education forever. Students have entered a new world of education, by learning remotely through online classes. How do you see this transition to online learning? Do you think it will widen educational inequalities?

PM: Unless we have most required infrastructure available, the online learning shall increase domestic violence, child abuse creating a stressful learning environment.

KO: Lots of parents, teachers, as well as students, worry that online lessons are poor substitute for classroom teaching. What is the likely impact of remote learning on educational outcomes and how is the current reality of education compromising the effects of personal, one-on-one instruction, especially for learners who are struggling?

PM: Vulnerability and adversity is apparently community based, therefore only a community-oriented and well-planned methodology, with a legal and execution support may help.

KO: You know there is a digital divide which is creating a potentially extreme impact on the inequality of opportunities? What should be the approach of the schools and education department towards the remote learning to bridge that digital divide?

PM: I feel the New Education Policy 2020, has some substantial suggestions concerning these issues.

KO: How can we prepare for any such closures in future?

PM: Simple, closures be taken as integral components of the school curricular practices, and demand-based operational strategies be worked out.

KO: Amid this prolonged pandemic lockdown many educationists have expressed a drop out concern, what is your take on this?

PM: Yes and no: yes, because immediacy treatments cannot be meted out. No, because like all other institutional fallouts, complete devastation is not a time-tested experience.

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Aashiq Hussain Andrabi

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