Why can’t the J&K government leverage technology to teach curfew-hit students
Since the unrest erupted in Kashmir after Burhan Wani’s death, students have not attended schools. And, over the past three-and-a-half months, at least one school in each of Kashmir Valley’s 10 districts have either been burnt or suffered damages in fires.editorials Updated: Oct 27, 2016 18:11 IST
In strife-torn areas, schools can provide children hope and stability. Unfortunately, even that space seems to be out of bounds for many students in Kashmir. Over the past three-and-a-half months, 17 government schools have been burnt during the unrest. Besides the 17, two private schools were also been damaged in fires as Kashmir has virtually been shut since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. While most of the schools have been burnt at night by ‘miscreants’, a few caught fire allegedly after security forces fired tear gas shells on protesters. Security forces have denied this allegation. But arson is not the only issue that is plaguing the education system in the state these days: Seven prominent schools in Srinagar have been housing many companies of paramilitary forces.
There are two theories that are doing the rounds regarding the incidents of arson in schools: One, the incidents could be the handiwork of students who don’t want to take the examinations because they are not prepared because classes have not been held for some time. On October 24, the Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Welfare Association approached the high court, seeking postponement of Class 10 and 12 exams till March 2017, pleading that there have been only 84 working days in the academic session in which students have completed not more than 40% of the syllabus. The second theory is that these acts are the handiwork of terrorists. In fact, the Lashkar-e-Taiba on September 27 issued a warning to state education minister Naeem Akhtar for trying to resume schools and colleges in the Valley.
Instead of playing politics, the government must get to the bottom of this and also release funds for rebuilding of the schools. Having said that, a question arises: In states such as Kashmir, where curfews have become a regular practice, is isn’t it high time the State comes up with a plan to ensure some system of regular teaching even when children are forced to stay home? In a piece in Greater Kashmir, a columnist asks why radio and TV is not being used to teach students who are forced to stay indoors. Such things take place cannot overnight; this needs foresight and planning. And that’s not something available in abundance in the state at the moment.