Srinagar- The Students enrolled at several private and government institutions, Monday urged the administration to declare winter break for all schools, asserting the poor heating arrangements amidst the bone-chilling cold makes it difficult for them to attend classes.
Parents of the students also appealed to the administration to declare winter break for all schools, given the early advent of winters in Kashmir.
Boarding buses early in the morning to get to their schools, parents claimed, makes it a herculean task for the students, especially young ones.
Government’s recent decision to modify school timings within and outside Srinagar Municipal limits has somewhat relieved the students, but the extreme cold and dense foggy conditions in the morning makes it very difficult for children to get to schools, Tariq Ahmad, whose 4-year-old child attends Burn Hall School, told Kashmir Observer.
Getting his child to wake up early in the morning in the middle of a bitter cold to board a bus, according to Tariq, is a big challenge.
“We appeal to the government to at least announce winter breaks for the elementary classes so as to protect the children from getting exposed to the most common diseases including cold, flu and other respiratory ailments,” he added.
Rafiq Ahmad Patloo, an auto-rickshaw driver said that he has to drop his five-year-old child at the school in the bitter cold, especially in the mornings.
“My child often shivers from the cold and occasionally begs not to send him to school. I truly feel bad for him when I drop him off in the morning,” says Tariq, whose kid attends Government High School Sonwar.
When contacted Additional Secretary School Education, Naseer Ahmad passed the buck to the Director School Education, saying he is the only person authorized to speak on the matter.
“Actually what you are talking about does not come under my domain, it’s better if you talk to the Director School Education as he may be the right person to answer your queries,” Naseer Ahmad told Kashmir Observer.
Director of Education Dr. Tassaduq Hussain Mir could not be reached despite many attempts through text and phone calls.
Renowned influenza expert, Dr Nisar-ul Hassan, when contacted said it would be better if the government announces winter vacations at the earliest so the children are protected from the common winter illnesses.
“Since children are susceptible to the flu, their parents may also become ill at home. If schools cannot provide adequate heating arrangements to children in schools, what good is it to keep them open? It would be better to announce the winter break as early as possible,” said Dr Nisar, who is also the president of Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK).
“Vaccinating children against common winter illnesses is essential, and schools do not provide this service during the colder months.” Schools have no right to endanger the students when they don’t have basic amenities like air heating and immunizations, he told Kashmir Observer.
Echoing similar views, President of the Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK), GN War said that primary school winter breaks ought to be announced at the earliest. However, he quickly added that the decision about winter break up to the tenth grade may be taken later.
Regarding insufficient heating arrangements in private schools, War said that not all private schools that charge students a meager amount of Rs. 200 or Rs. 300 a month can afford to provide such amenities.
“Let the government spend millions of rupees that would otherwise go unused on these kinds of amenities at private schools. Why do they not act in this way? How is it possible for a school owner who charges students between Rs. 200 and Rs. 300 a month to offer heating for them,” War told Kashmir Observer.
He was however quick to add that necessary action must be taken against those schools, which despite charging thousands of rupees from students fail to provide heating arrangements.
“So far as winter vacations are concerned, we also demand it to be announced as early as possible at least up to 5th grade. Rest the decision regarding the classes up to 10th can be taken later given the incomplete syllabus at schools,” added War.
The Jammu and Kashmir Students Association (JKSA) has also requested Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to announce winter vacations, particularly for lower classes, on a priority basis amidst the plummeting temperatures and dense fog gripping the region.
The association highlighted that adverse weather conditions extend beyond conventional challenges of rain and snowfall. With temperatures reaching sub-zero levels and visibility significantly reduced due to fog, the journey to school becomes arduous, especially for young students.
In a statement, National Convener of Association Nasir Khuehami said, “The Lieutenant Governor administration should consider these changes in weather. It is very difficult for kids to go to school in extreme cold and fog.’
The plea specifically calls for winter vacations up to Class 8, citing the vulnerability of younger students to harsh weather conditions. Nasir Khuehami stressed the urgency, urging the LG to make the announcement as soon as possible to alleviate the hardships faced by students and their families.
National General Secretary Ummar Jamal said, “Bad weather doesn’t only mean rain and snowfall. It includes cold when the temperature dips to minus, and visibility becomes very low due to fog. Authorities should consider these changes in weather. It is very difficult for kids to go to school in extreme cold and fog.”
“As winter tightens its grip on the region, we hope that the government will prioritize the well-being of students and take prompt action to ensure a safe and comfortable learning environment during the challenging weather conditions,” Jamal added.
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