By Mir Tajamul Islam and Arif Rashid Malik
EDUCATION is contemplated as a behaviour shaping means from the advent of the universe and undoubtedly it invests its positive gears in a man, as well as in society. Education and Kashmir, from the beginning, had stayed in a warm shell — outright, hand in hand.
Although education had remained a prospect for a Kashmiri from time to time, a Kashmiri never looked out for the negative flank due to its full swing proficiency and consistent mindset. That is why the contributions, from Kashmir, in the education sector or due to education had prevailed in many shapes and forms.
Education (receiving and providing) is a reason to survive for some and a mudbank for many. The education sector in Kashmir read up an excruciating posture from the end of the year 1989; a crucial era that turned on the political uncertainties and suspense in the valley. The coin earned a flip and a different picture of Kashmir was stocked in the market (world). This flip rewrote the outlook of the education sector also.
Educationists, pro-believers and spreaders and even the government made an effort to revolutionise the education sector. Subsequent years saw the education scenario get better. However, even these years saw Kashmiris facing impediments in the way to seek knowledge smoothly.
For instance, the political tensions from the year 2016 to August 2019, made education in Kashmir quite different from that which was available to those living outside of these conditions. Therefore, the Kashmiri education scenario has had to undergo many unprecedented roadblocks which are uniquely negative. The last three decades which were interspersed with politics and violence, did not allow easy, healthy and smooth access to education or educational resources.
Nonetheless, education kept on being encouraged and pursued despite odds in Kashmir. But who would have thought what was coming!
After the unexpected shutdown post Abrogation of Article 370 which was accompanied by internet blockade in Kashmir — the world welcomed a global pandemic which it is still fighting for two years now.
This time, the education sector of the whole world stood knee bent including ours. The education sector of the valley was so far (already) in the stroke, so came to be hot-headed for the educationists, people and government to set it on the zenith once again.
Currently, no substantial efforts have been made towards strengthening education in Kashmir in such dire times. This was especially urgent given the losses that the education scenario had already incurred over the years. The government, instead of switching the education to its strength, is aiming to sustain contemporary education on the online strategy nutriment. This strategy was adopted without any area specific or localised planning and research.
Even though we are living in the age of technology, it is not always inclusive and feasible. A large number of students can hardly afford basic resources like a mobile phone for online education. Online mode of education is exclusively beneficial for those economically privileged students who come from well-off families. The poor have been left behind, yet again.
Additionally, Internet access is already uncertain and erratic in Kashmir due to it being a conflict zone. This makes it precarious and makes even digital education vulnerable to uncertainties. One may recall here that even at the outset of the covid-19 pandemic, when education switched to online mode, students in Kashmir did not have access to high speed internet. It affected education from primary to university level. Research scholars faced hurdles in their ways towards meaningful and tasteful research.
Yet another downside of online education has been that effective communication between students and teachers has also been hampered. Moreover, logistical lacks like internet access, lack of space, noise, issues with being audible or legible due to weak signal have also contributed towards discouraging student attention as well as attendance in online classes. Hence, Online mode of learning has created a lot of disinterest among teachers as well as students in literary pursuit.
Locking down educational institutions for an indefinite period by the government in Jammu and Kashmir is no longer productive. The government, in the erstwhile state, tried diverse substitutes from the 1990s till recent times to redress the damages done to education over the years. This spirit needs to continue.
Education is a tool to rewrite the destiny of any nation. Without education, the tasteless atmosphere may survive and cascades of oppression will continue. The government and stakeholders must recognise the special needs of Kashmir’s education landscape. No copy-paste approach which is generic can be used here. We need solutions that are tailor made for us, specifically.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
- The authors are pursuing a bachelor's degree in legislative law (B.A LL.B) from the school of the law university of Kashmir and Master in political science from the University of Kashmir respectively
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