Moot Point: Should Schooling Last Till Weather Permits?

School children waving for a snap. KO Photo by Abid Bhat

The wintertime school debate is back in town following the recent official statement on the traditional winter vacation in Kashmir and the prompt public debate on the existing infrastructure and heating arrangements in schools.

NOT that it’s a new noise overtaking public platforms following the fading of the recent cricket commotion, but the concern created by the classic cold is real.

As the mercury is dipping in the valley, the worry about the normal classwork has prompted many to join the chorus and question the existing school infrastructure and heating arrangements.

The government curtly dismissed the din as a “futile fuss” as the “efforts are afoot to upgrade the school infrastructure”.

The debate started when PK Pole, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, said that the schools shall remain open as long as weather permits.

Pole was speaking to reporters during the inaugural ceremony of Indus Bank in Hari Singh High Street, Srinagar.

“There is no clarity needed,” he said. “Every year, when there’s heavy snowfall in plains including in the city, schools are closed for vacations.”

It depends on nature and may be, the schooling shall continue beyond December 15, he said. “There’s already clarity given by Director School Education Kashmir and every year, not just this season, schools shall remain open until there is major snowfall. It is all weather dependent.”

Earlier, Tasaduq Hussain Mir, Director of School Education Kashmir (DSEK), said that there’s no plan of winter vacations in Kashmir region as of now.

However, the order has come under fire from the parents and civil society members, saying that with the temperature dipping and lack of infrastructure in schools, the students will shiver in the classrooms.

Earlier, the government changed the academic calendar for Kashmir schools, shifting the annual examinations and fresh admissions from October-November to March every year.

“A winter tuition system was established across the valley in 2015,” said Naeem Akhtar, former education minister, while joining the online debate.

“It worked very efficiently along with Super 50 coaching and winter academic camps for lower classes. The classrooms were equipped with heating arrangements. What happened to that? Why should wheel be reinvented?”

In the backdrop of the ongoing debate, Kashmir Observer talked to students, teachers and officials to understand the severity of the situation.

Mohammad Rasib, a student

We’ve completed our syllabus and our exams are now in the March session.

So we don’t understand the logic behind keeping the schools open in bone-chilling cold.

G.N Var, President Private Schools Association Jammu and Kashmir

The government orders should be logic driven and evidence based.

But apparently, there seems to be no evidence that schools should function beyond 15 December.

Normally, the schools close down for winter vacation from nursery to 8th standard on 01 December and by 15 December all higher classes are off.

This has been happening from so many years and never has been the educational insertions remain open after 15 December.

The government can’t wait for weather disturbances and then close down the schools abruptly.

The government has maintained that they will provide heating infrastructure in all schools but I wonder how much infrastructure they can provide in just one month. There are over 15000 private and government schools in J&K.

Mohammad Junaid, a student

The government earlier took decisions of uniform academic calendar by shifting exams to March session. And now, this unnecessary delay in winter vacations without taking anyone on board is worrying.

It won’t work like this. Most of the schools are even without windows. Who can provide heating arrangement within a short span of time? The decision is illogical and needs immediate clarification.

Khurshid Khwaja, President of the Parents’ Association of Private Schools

I think the government’s statement has been misunderstood by the people, or I should say that they weren’t able to make people understand what they meant.

As you know that there’re no heating facilities in the government as well as the majority of the private schools and therefore many students sit on the floor. How will the government allow that?

Mehak Touyba, Research Scholar, Kashmir University

I don’t see this government decision having long-term implications due to weather conditions in the valley.

From December till March, chilly-cold weather prevails across Kashmir and it becomes quite difficult to live by it, unless there’re sufficient heating arrangements available.

The infrastructure of most of the government schools, especially in the far-off places, isn’t fair enough to withstand such harsh weather conditions.

Alok Kumar, Principal Secretary School Education Department

We never said that we will keep the schools open during snow. We’ve been told that till the weather is fair, we’ll try to keep the class open for students so that we can fill the gaps that took place during COVID-19.

Our students suffered a huge loss during that time, so we want to compensate for it. This has been happening every year that the administration keeps the schools open till the weather permits.

The temperature goes down in winters in Kashmir, so what’s new in it? Why so much fuss? We’ll also provide the heating infrastructure but it will not happen overnight.

Follow this link to join our WhatsApp group: Join Now

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.



Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.