Lack of infrastructure and proper guidance is forcing students to hunt for options outside Kashmir.   Ruwa Shah talks to a number of students to understand the dilemma they face in choosing a right career.

Kashmiri-girls-studentsEvery morning, bearing harsh climatic conditions, a large number of students walk towards tuition centres carrying huge bags on their backs.

Students from all over Kashmir come to attend different tuition centres in Srinagar which have become hub of private-education in the valley.

These privately run tuition centres teach almost every subject including humanities, science, business studies and commerce.

But with most of these tuition centres lacking basic infrastructure, students often cramp inside small rooms like herd of sheep to get education. Students who come from outside Srinagar live as tenants in areas adjacent to these tuition centres.

The trend is most prevalent in students who opt for medical and non-medical subjects to appear in entrance examinations like AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examinations) and JKCET (Jammu & Kashmir Common Entrance Test) etc.

Most of the students are ‘compelled’ by their parents to opt for these subjects, without considering their inclinations. “My parents forced me to opt for medical subjects after qualifying 10th class examination. I was never interested in studying medicine,” says Rabia, a 12th class student.

Rabia tried to convince her parents to let her chose a career, but she was disappointed. “I never did well in science. I wanted to utilize my talent of writing and thus opt for humanities or English literature but my parents did not agree,” says Rabia.

Some students blame faulty education system which fails to help them in choosing a right career.  “I had to move to Delhi for the coaching of chartered secretary course, because there are no options available here. I was always sure about my dreams and passion since childhood,” says Munazah Lateef, an aspiring Chartered Secretary.

Those students who want to change the trend of blindly following others when it comes to choosing a career are often left disappointed as there are no options here. “I didn’t find any other option, we lack proper guidance and we have limited career options here,” says Ifla student of women’s college M.A Road, Srinagar.

Ifla was forced by her parents to pursue bachelors in science despite wanting be a nanotechnologist. “We have limited under-graduate courses in Kashmir. Thus we have to either curtail our dreams or move outside, which is not possible for all,” says Ifla.

On the other hand, students who tried to crack different competitive entrance examinations as per their parents’ wishes and failed, ended up leading a depressed life.

The failure has dented their confidence badly. In some cases these students cannot continue their studies at all.  “I tried to crack medical entrance exam twice, but I failed,” says Haroon, an aspiring writer, who now struggles to establish his own business unit.

This dilemma forced many students to hunt for options outside Kashmir. “There you have less interference from parents and you can freely choose whatever you want to be in your life,” says Afzal Ahmad, who is currently studying literature from DU.

Many students prefer places like New Delhi, Aligarh, Bangalore, Punjab etc. for courses like bachelors in Bio-technology, Nanotechnology, Robotic engineering, Fine Arts, Architectural engineering, Interior Designing and English Honours. “The quality of education outside Kashmir is much better. And you get placements as well. Kashmir is still stuck with doctors and engineers only,”

The quality of education is not the only concern for students, lack of proper counselling is adding to their confusion as well.  “Once I completed my higher education I was counselled wrongly by someone, I was asked to go for BBA whereas I didn’t even know what it was about,” says Anees Ul Islam, a post-graduate in business studies who wanted to make a career in aviation sector. “That mistake steered my career in the wrong direction,” feels Islam.

Although some new courses have been introduced in Kashmir over past many years but lack of proper guidance has left a larger section of student unaware about them.

For instance, under-graduate course for Mass Communication was started in Baramulla Degree College and Women’s college M.A Road Srinagar, some years back, yet only a few students know about it.

“I opted for Arts stream unwillingly because I didn’t have any other option. I was unaware about MCMP under graduate course, I would rather have gone for it”, Bisma, a journalism aspirant student says.

Without a proper education system in place and lack of support from parents students often end up in the wrong place.

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