Schools Re-open

After a protracted dry winter, schools are reopening. The future generation, as has always been, is very excited to resume schooling, share their tales of long holidays and get back to the routine. Now it depends upon the larger society in general and various tools of the governance structure to ensure the academic session remains incident-free and normal. Reiterating the hope is imperative in wake of serious tensions on ground and the loud thinking about the trade unionists from the education sector.

The most important responsibility is on teaching fraternity. They must understand certain basics: education is the most populous department of the government of J&K and it takes the most of the state’s budget as wages, salary, pensions and other facilities. This, they are taking in return of educating the new generation and enabling them face the new world, that has challenges fast changing because of the IT revolution.

J&K state, especially Kashmir, has a very lopsided system of managing the future generation. Almost half of the year routinely goes as holidays and strikes. This has forced the parents to seek alternatives for education of the children. Hundreds of tuition shops are operational just because the parents are not satisfied with the quality of education being imparted to the students. Some even send their children to Jammu and other places for tuitions for the winter months. The winter capital has actually emerged a huge destination for education for Kashmir kids where the teachers and in certain cases the proprietors of these centres are Kashmiris. The level of investment that parents make in tuitions is actually question mark over the functioning the education apparatus across Kashmir and must be a key factor for review by the policy makers.

The other important thing that the policy makers will have to tackle is how to manage a healthy competition between the public sector and private schools. Off late, it has been seen in Kashmir that ninety percent of the new urban admissions take place in private schools leaving only that section to the state run schools which are not in a position to pay. This has created a situation in which a well-educated and hugely paid government teacher fails in imparting good education in compassion to a low paid and ill-educated private school teacher who does wonders. Is it because state education sector lacks kindergarten or lack of English at the entry level as a subject? It needs to be seen.

One most important thing that could be expected from all the players on ground is to explore the possibility of keeping the education conflict neutral. On the face of it, it sounds very difficult because when the situation in Kashmir turns bad, there are no visible exclusions. At the same time, there has to be some mechanism that prevents the misuse of education sector as a political tool. But how can it happen, needs to be debated and discussed. There is no harm in using the formal media and social media for throwing ideas into the public domain.

Let it be done as early as possible. And let everybody start thinking.


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