by Saifullah Bashir
The schools across the Kashmir valley re-opened on Monday after a three-month-long winter break and a seven-month-long disruption in the wake of the Centre’s decision to abrogate special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two union territories on August 5, 2019.
The government in various announcements had reopened schools in phases. Only some schools were open however most students did not attend classes due to the chaos and clampdown following the restrictions imposed by the authorities.
In response to government orders, parents preferred to keep their wards away from classrooms as they cited that there is no communication between the schools and the parents, as both mobile and internet service were suspended by the authorities.
After that school authorities decided to give a home assignment to the students and they also conduct the examinations at home up to class 8th. On December 2019, the authorities announced the winter break till February 24, 2020.
The students were seen draped in their colourful school uniforms waiting for their buses at their respective stops. Highway and link roads witnessed huge traffic movement as the school buses ferried the children to schools.
“We are happy that our schools have reopened after over seven-month break,” said Bushra, a class 10th student of Kothi Bagh higher secondary school Srinagar.
“It feels good to see friends in schools after a long time,” said Bushra.
“Our children suffer. They hardly get 100 days of education last year. Rest of the time goes in vain. Hope this year they can get sufficient time to study,” said a parent Mukhtar Ahmed, 45.
“Conflict is taking a toll on the mental health of our children. I hope that their minds will be refreshed in the classrooms,” said Arshid Shah another parent.
According to official figures, Kashmir has 11,633 educational institutes, including 810 middle schools, 247 high schools and 37 higher secondary schools. Students enrolled up to the higher secondary level number 10.03 lakh, comprising 5.29 lakh male students and 4.74 lakh female students.
Reports said that more than 50 government schools in Kupwara do not have road access due to accumulation of snow.
They said that irony is that in some schools, the accumulated snow is yet to be cleared from the roofs and courtyards.
“Some schools in Kupwara district start functioning from April due to thick snow. Most of these schools are from avalanche-prone areas,” said the reports
According to the officials, the areas wherefrom these government schools are still inaccessible include Jumgand, Machil, Budnambal, Chamkote,Tangdar, and Rajwar.
“Seven schools of Budnambal area, four schools of Jumgand, 12 in Machil, 18 in Chamkote and Tangdar and eight schools of Rajwar upper areas are reportedly cut-off due to the accumulated snow,” said an official.
Director of School Education Mohammad Younis Malik said that all arrangements have been made to reopen schools after the biting cold.
“It’s our responsibility to redouble efforts to get the school syllabus completed in time,” he said.
In 2016, the schools had remained closed continuously for eight months from July to March when summer unrest broke out in Kashmir following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.