Students or Cannon Fodder

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“It was unfortunate that only after completing one semester, the university came up with a date sheet. As per the guidelines of the university at least student should complete two semesters in a year. It is irony for the year, 2014, the results were announced in 2016,’’

Image: The Legitimate

From past three years Kashmir’s education is in doldrums and the future of thousands of students enrolled in schools, higher secondary schools, colleges and universities is at stake. Even the students of Kashmir have to face floods, unrest period, continuous strikes, atrocities from the security forces and above all they are being used by government and separatists to pursue their agendas whether they like it or not. Even during elections, it is the schools especially government schools that are used as polling stations or turned into temporary camps and when the forces leave the classrooms, they are turned into dump yard filled with soot and discarded items. Though, government has been claiming to keep education sector on the top priority, however, on ground the government has failed to implement its own policies that could have secured the future of our upcoming generation.  

Thousands of students enrolled in colleges are facing major challenges due to reformation of Academic sessions by the university authorities and also by the announcement of colleges in every part without creating the proper infrastructure. The scars of 2016, unrest are still visible on the physce of the students when all the educational institutions remained closed for over five months and students had to appear in the examinations without even studying and they relied on the syllabus curtailment, otherwise, many students would have not been able to continue their education.

In 2012, the government decided to introduce a new Mid-term system in education but the much touted system was washed away by the devastating floods in 2014 that engulfed most part of the Valley and colleges and schools. And from 2014, the students enrolled in different colleges have to face the burnt. In 2014 a new batch was enrolled in colleges and when the class work began, it got disrupted due to parliament elections as most of the colleges were used by security forces and election staff and students had no option but to wait when election days will pass over so they could resume class work. And when elections were over and students resumed their classes, the deluge hit Kashmir and students couldn’t go to colleges as most of the colleges got marooned in flood waters.

Image Source: The Legitimate

Only, in April 2015, the university decided for an examination schedule for the colleges. As the university was holding examinations, at the same time, another batch was enrolled in colleges and the result of batch enrolled in 2014 was announced in the month of May – June 2015 and when session began and students started taking lecture from the teachers, the university decided to abolish the midterm examination system and reverted to old formula – Annual system of examination. As the students of two batches enrolled in 2014 and 2015 were in the midst of their first semester, the university announced a date sheet for students of both the batches even when the syllabus was still incomplete.

“It was unfortunate that only after completing one semester, the university came up with a date sheet. As per the guidelines of the university at least student should complete two semesters in a year. It is irony for the year, 2014, the results were announced in 2016,’’ said a college student while trying to explain the hardships faced by the students while pursuing their career. 

For the students, the bad luck was again in store for them as they had to face long unrest in 2016, only few months after they were able to resume their class work and couldn’t complete even 10 percent of their syllabus.  

 Infact the career of students of 2014 and 2015 batch is at stake as the students have just managed to complete only three semesters so far as per the university guidelines they should have completed five semesters and even when the third semester examinations was underway, the university again postponed the examinations after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat in Tral after an encounter. The students enrolled in colleges have managed to attend mere 20 classes per year and the semester system that requires examinations after every five months have failed due to security situation in Kashmir as the universities couldn’t hold examinations in its stipulated time putting career of students at risk. It is not only the violence, but weather has also played a spoilsport for the students and university authorities have badly failed to devise a strategy that could have safeguarded the future of students.

 The continuous detrimental situation in Kashmir had done a lot in making the Valley a worst place to live in. Each and every segment of the society got severely affected due to the violations throughout the Valley. But the most affected and unhealed sector is Education. The continuous protests and violations in the Valley had almost perished the education sector.

It is irony in Kashmir a three year Bachelors Degree takes four to five years for completion that has resulted in stress among the students and government has failed to safeguard future of students as they are only concerned about security situation.

“I joined the College in May 2015, almost three months late due to delay in our class XII examinations. However, due to deluge of 2014 to acquire my three years Bachelors Degree which comprises six semesters I am yet to finish. Academically I would have been graduated from college a year ago but I am still in third semester”, says Showkat Ahmad a student enrolled in Government Degree College Baramulla. He says that despite being in third year in the College he could barely complete half of his course.

“My classmates who are studying outside the Valley are close to complete their Bachelors. If things work like that then I can’t be able to compete with the students of other states at the national level. It looks we are back to old days, when it took 2.5 years for students to complete one year course,’’ he says.

 

Image Source: The Legitimate

Expressing similar views, another student said. “I have joined for Bachelors at GDC Baramulla in April of 2016 and as per the norms I should have completed my first year at the end of last year but unfortunately even after one and a half year I am still in my 1st year {second semester} and I am seeing my future bleak under these circumstances.”’

To overcome losses faced by the students, the Kashmir university had issued a circular according to which students have to appear three times in the examination this year –(It means students have to complete three semesters in a single year instead of two) to complete the last year losses but unfortunately no progress has been made as half of the year has passed.

Under these circumstance how is it possible that our students would be able to compete with the students of other states, who have no disruptions in their academic career and if this system will continue then many bright minds who could have excelled in the future and made name for their families and state will lose interest in their career and also will never be able to compete in any examinations at highest level,

Time has come when J&K government should keep education sector on its top priority and should not try to use students as cannon fodder while dealing with separatists. Infact, the government and the separatist leadership should never try to use students or educational institutions in war against each other. Though publicly both the government and the separatist leadership have maintained that education of students is always dear to them, however, on ground the government as well as separatist have tried to take benefit by putting career of students at stake. Though politics can’t be kept apart from the students, however, in the case of Kashmir, students have already faced hardships and are still facing trouble from both sides. The frequent strike calls by separatists leadership are creating hindrance in the smooth functioning of educational intuitions of the Valley.

The government must also retrain the forces from entering into the educational institutions  The incident sparked a series of protest demonstration across the Valley in educational intuitions, despite governments assurance, the culprits (police officials) were not punished and top ministers gave false promises that who so ever will be found guilty will be punished. On the other hand, a top separatist leader, Nayeem Khan openly admitted in a sting operation on a television channel that they are responsible for burning of schools in Valley. Though Khan later denied of saying this and termed it as a ploy of news channel to defame the ongoing freedom struggle, however, this has raised many questions that students are easily used by stake holders for their mean political gains.

The story is from the print edition of June 14-20, 2017.

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