Terming the forced expulsion of thousands of Kashmiri students from outside colleges as the biggest challenge before the society, the Coaching Centres’ Association of Kashmir (CCAK) and Private Schools’ Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) has called for joint efforts to cope up with the huge problem.
Association in a joint press conference called for keeping education apolitical and urged the leaders to shun away from doing politics by using the children. “Around 3000 students have arrived and more are coming. It is becoming one of the biggest challenges before us. Majority of these students including girls have been humiliated, intimidated and threatened. There are cases of beatings too. At places, colleges have been forced to rusticate the students and police has been pressurised to register cases against them on frivolous charges,” said G N Var chairman PSAJK.
In such a situation the students are not willing to go back. Even the parents are apprehensive about their wards re-joining the colleges in such an atmosphere. “Maybe the situation cools down in some days but nobody is sure about the future. What if a similar situation arises again? Assembly elections are approaching in the coming months and the atmosphere will be charged and even polarised. In such a sensitive atmosphere of manipulative politics, there is every likelihood that our students can become hostage to the situation again,” said Var. “We have been time and again pleading that education should remain politically neutral.”
The Association said that local political parties and leaders too should limit their words and actions to facilitate the progress and development of education sectors and not do politics on education. “Had our political leaders who are currently raising a hue and cry over the expulsion of Kashmiri students, paid heed to the development of educational infrastructure in Kashmir, this situation would have been largely avoided,” said Var.
“When these leaders were in power they never encouraged the emergence of colleges and universities of excellence in the private sector and the result is that Kashmir is an educationally backward region. Every State encouraged the establishment of private college and universities except ours. Even today more than 100 files for the establishment of colleges are pending for want of clearance.”
The Association said that the government lacks education policy for education in private sector. “In 1996 the then government allowed the establishment of B.Ed. colleges by relaxing rules. Scores of colleges sprung up and they gradually built their infrastructure. We want the government to come to the rescue and relax the rules for the establishment of colleges and universities, as a one-time immediate measure. Colleges and private universities should be allowed to operate from rented accommodations with the assurance of development of infrastructure in five or 10 years. Similarly, other rules be relaxed too,” said Var. “We assure you that we will be self-sufficient in most of the courses within few years.”
The Association said that outside investors are ready to invest in education institutes and even foreign universities are also eager to collaborate to establish institutes of excellence in Kashmir if the only government gives the green signal.
“This will establish a knowledge economy and provide thousands of jobs too,” said Var. “We strongly appeal to the authorities that red-tapism be done away with and independence be given to the new Colleges. Few colleges that we currently have are the small replicas of the University of Kashmir as they are being micromanaged. Low fee is set up by the University for them, and the UGC salaries are being imposed for the teachers. This leaves no incentive for the private players. This is why Higher Education is not an attractive sector for investors.”
To tackle the present situation, both the Associations have been working with Professors of KU, IUST, NIT and other institutes. In addition to it, educationists and academicians have also been roped in. “As already CCAK has offered free admission to students in various courses. According to our analysis, most of the courses like BTech, BBA, MBA, BCA etc can be taught here by the faculty. The courses like MBBS and BDS need infrastructure. The students who were in the midst of coaching for competitive examinations like NEET, JET, IAS etc will also be provided free admission in coaching centres, as the arrangements have been made to accommodate them.”
The Associations have asked all experts and professors to voluntarily register with them so that an assessment of Human Resource can be made. “We will come to know how much Human Resource we have and what are we lacking. They can be used to teach the students at suitable accommodations,” said Var. “We have trained persons in specialised courses like Nano Technology too, we need to identify and utilise their services at this hour.”
The Association also demanded that elite higher secondary institutes like Green Valley Educational Institute, Kashmir Harvard, JK Public School, R.P. School, SRM Welkin Higher Secondary School, Radiant Public School Islamabad, Dolphin International, Lyceum International Pulwama, Leeds Convent Kulgam, et al which have good infrastructure be allowed to start classes in graduation courses. It is an emergency situation needing out of box solutions. We also appeal to KU, Agriculture University, SKIMS, NIT, Auqaf, Hoteliers, vacant school buildings to provide their infrastructure for the classes.
The Associations warned that if the immediate measures are not taken, the situation can go from bad to worse. Coming down heavily on the implementation of Prime Minister Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) in the State, which is biased towards the educational institutes of the state, the association demanded their rules be amended. “They give Rs 1200 crore scholarship for colleges outside J&K. Had they included local colleges in the scholarship, the students would have been safe and the local infrastructure would have also developed,” said Var.
The Association threatened to boycott PMSSS from the coming session if the colleges of the State are not included in the scheme.