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J-K govt orders closure of coaching centres in Kashmir, triggers anger

Education minister Altaf Bukhari says coaching centres are ‘distractions’ but students insist they are needed because schools often remain closed due to disturbances.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2018 23:10 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir,Education minister,Altaf Bukhar
Disruptions were witnessed this month as students protested over the alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. (HT PHOTO)

Jammu and Kashmir government on Sunday decided to shut coaching centres across Kashmir for the next three months, triggering talk that the move is aimed at keeping students away from street protests. “The order will be issued by tomorrow,” said state education minister Altaf Bukhari.

The minister, however, insisted that student protests did not guide the decision. Bukhari announced the decision in Srinagar after chairing a meeting of education officers and principals of higher secondary schools.

Schools and colleges across the Valley have seen repeated closures over the last couple of months following protests over the death of civilians during gun battles between security forces and holed up militants. Disruptions were also witnessed this month as students protested over the alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

Parents of several students alleged that the government was taking revenge on students.

Bukhari disagreed, saying they were reviewing the education system “Why will we punish students? It is the parents who are putting a burden on their children by sending them to schools as well as tuitions,” he said.

“We had a meeting on how to strengthen the education system and came to the conclusion that there are distractions affecting the system. One of the distractions is coaching centres, so we decided to close coaching centres for the next 90 days,” he added.

The government’s decision came a day after Bukhari warned students against protesting, saying, “Once they come out on the roads, they should be treated as rowdies.” Bukhari said students were emotionally stressed by the Kathua case. “We appeal to parents that they help us bring our children back to the classrooms...,” he said.

Stating that he was surprised with parents worrying over the closure of coaching centres, Bukhari said: “Coaching is only needed when the school system is not good. Our system is good”.

Students reacted with shock to the government’s decision. “What will happen now? I am tense now. We have already completed 50% of our syllabus in tuition classes. It’s not even 10% in my school,” said a Class 11 student of a government school .

Coaching centre administrators sought CM Mehbooba Mufti’s intervention. “How can you play with students’ careers? I appeal to the minister (Bukhari) to not mingle education with politics,” said Latif Masoodi, general secretary of Kashmir Coaching Centres Association.

First Published: Apr 22, 2018 21:24 IST