Immediately after the prayers at the sundown, elders of Srinagar’s Bagh-e-Mehtab colony on Monday stayed back at the mosque to discuss something urgent other than the religion: future of the children.
The Kashmir valley students have not been able to attend schools for the last two months due to civilian unrest, protests and curfews. More than 50 people, mainly teenagers, have died in street demonstrations till date.
Worried about the bleak future of wards, the elders at Bagh-e-Mehtab zeroed in on local Mathematics, English and Biology teachers in the colony. They were assigned to prepare students of the colony and the neighbourhood from Class 10 to Class 12.
“We have many professors, lecturers and private school teachers in the colony. We can set up community schools to prepare students for exams up to Class 12,” said Muhammad Sharief Qureshi, a member of the Bagh-e-Mehtab’s mohalla (colony) committee.
The colony teachers have agreed to the arrangement. “Students are not able to study due to the unrest. We sit idle in the day. I have decided to teach three hours every day. For lower classes, many graduates can lend a helping hand,” said a Biology teacher on the condition of anonymity. The teacher is a government employee and can face action from the government if his name is revealed.
Out of 148-day session, 82 days have been lost to shutdowns, protests and curfews since March this year.
The state government has included the Education department in the essential services list like hospitals, water supply etc this week. Those teachers who will not attend schools might face J-K’s Essential Services Maintenance Ordinance.
The government’s media campaign. “What does denying our children education achieves?” asks huge advertisements published in local dailies recently. All the measures have failed so far to put derailed academic session in colleges, schools and universities on tracks.
In the last seven weeks, there has been relaxation in separatists shutdown calls only on Sundays. Many private schools, who have uploaded assignments on their websites, decided to keep schools open on the holidays only to invite the government’s wrath.
“According to Educational Act of 2002, the registration of private schools will be cancelled if they did not keep schools open during these (shutdown) days,” said J-K Education minister Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed Sayeed.
There are very few chances of schools opening in the near future because of repeated weeklong separatists’ shutdown and protests calls. Many a times, resulting in the imposition of curfews by the authorities. But parents and elders have decided to go for community schools to complete school assignments and prepare the wards for upcoming examination till the unrest subsides.