Schools and colleges are shut down for over two months now, but many students say that is no excuse to stop studying. Self study is their mantra. Ibrahim Wani reports.
Initially he was confused. But after the first ten days Sheikh Rahil realized the curfews and shutdowns are going to continue. So he made up his mind.
The only option available was to self study. And so he did.
A student of class 12, Rahil is not alone. His friend Haseeb Ashai too has a similar story to narrate.
“Honestly speaking, the protests have had no effect on my education. Hartal or no hartal, it is finally up to a person himself what he or she wants to do with his time.”
Though they have not been able to go to school, both Rahil and Haseeb, who harbour dreams of becoming engineers, have not let this come in their way. The friends helped each other and at other times sought advice from a tutor living in the vicinity.
They feel that hartal is no reason to give up studies. “You have to open your books. No one is stopping you from doing so. It is not as though your books have been taken away from you.”
But they admit that there have been disturbances. Sometimes no matter how much they tried they could not concentrate.
“We were not even allowed to step out of our houses on curfew days,” says Haseeb. But it does not stop there. “And there were days when no matter how hard you tried you could not study. Like when CRPF is breaking your window panes or firing on the protestors just outside your house,” says Rahil.
The memory of one curfew day is stark. “We were going out to the tutor when we were stopped by the CRPF. They would not let us pass. They demanded we bring all the stone pelters to them,” says Rahil. The situation got worse when on another day they were chased and they had to take shelter in a mosque. “They tag everyone as a stonepelter,” he adds with a sigh.
Have they protested? Yes, they answer. “But we are not stone pelters. Whenever we protest we do it peacefully and out of our own will. You can’t stand mute to whatever happens around you. Can you?”
Nisar Wani (name changed) has similar views. But he makes an important observation. “It is an open kept secret in our society that right from class 10th, students hardly go to school. They spend most of their time either at the tuition centre or home,” he says. According to him these students were not harmed because of the closure of schools but because of the closure of tuitions centres.
“See being dependent on tuitions only is actually an aberration. People have to study themselves, and this the strategy which students now have to adopt. Forget tuitions and consult books. That will lead to development of diligence also,” he says.
Nisar who is preparing for KAS examinations feels that in a way the closure of educational institutions has come as a blessing in disguise for him. “I now get ample time to study and this has hugely aided my preparation for the exams.”
Another student Mushtaq Ahmad Sikander echoes similar views. Mustaq is a student of Political Science in Kashmir University and has consistently topped all his semester examinations. “Even though there was no class work, I was not affected at all and I think the same applies to my batch mates also,” he says.
Mustaq is a book buff, as he puts in his own words. “I read books dealing with politics, religion and literature,” he says adding, “During this period I got ample time to read.” Mushtaq also took out time to help his cousins and neighbours who were facing some difficulties in their studies.
Another student, Rafiq Shah who has recently passed his final semester exams for Civil Engineering feels that it is ultimately upto a student to do what he or she wants. “We sat in our final semester exams in the ongoing situation. Our teachers had given us an option to delay, but we persisted to go ahead. For this we braved curfews and many of us had to put up in the hostel, but all of us wanted to take the exam in time.”
He suggests that to study in the present situation, students have to strategize. “Schedule your day. At least give the same number of hours to study as you used to give in school,” he says.
Zahid Mustaq Mir, a student of 5th semester in NIT, Srinagar, also feels that it is upto the students. But he adds that innovative educational techniques can also be of great help. “Ours is a technical subject. So our teachers give us assignments on the days when the college is open, and we have to submit them on the next working day. Then there is discussion about the assignments in which all doubts are cleared.”
He opines that internet can be of great use. “Whenever I have any doubt about anything, I just Google it. There is loads of information about everything on the net. So it can be used to get quality study material,”
A number of Srinagar based schools have also started giving time bound assignment and home work schedules to students. And this has proved a great aid to keep the students busy in their studies.
Hamza Shabir a class 9 student of Burn Hall School says the school website helps “by updating us constantly about assignments. It somehow keeps you on track,” he says.
The school he say has come up with an online study program. “Here you get a username and password. You have an option to post textual queries or video chat with teachers. Through this it is like you are in a class when you are actually sitting in front of a computer,” he says.
Similar initiatives have been taken by other schools also. Keeping in mind that many students do not have access to internet a number of schools have also published the assignment topics in the local newspapers.
“Surprisingly every students had completed the assignments when we had to submit them in class,” informs Hamza, “even those who would normally be very late to submit homework when the situation was normal.”
Ifra Abid, who topped the CET 2010 says that hartals can not be used as an excuse to not study. She too feels that the only option available is self study. “So what if you are not going to school or tuitions. You have the books, just put them to use.”