SRINAGAR: Downtown Srinagar, the epicentre of anti-India revolts in the Kashmir Valley, has been under curfew for the past 48 days. Children are unable to go to school, but that isn’t coming in the way of the people’s determination to continue their defiance of the government and all its efforts to coerce people to surrender. Locals of two downtown areas–Rainawari and Khanyar- have set up makeshift tuition centres in mosques, homes, libraries, seminaries and community halls to provide education while the schools remain shut. More than 400 students from Class 1 to Class 12 have come from different parts of the city to study in these centres.
In Rainawari’s Hasnabad area, locals have converted the Imam Bara, the Babul Alim seminary and the Bargahah Abul Fazal library into tuition centres.
“One Friday, our Imam sahab from the pulpit of the mosque asked us to set up tuition centres. We followed his instructions,” said Khalid Abbas, a volunteer teaching at the Hasnabad centres. “We did a house-to-house survey to find out the number of students and the number of teachers that would be required to teach them. In just three days, we compiled a list. As of now we have more than 100 students being taught by 14 teachers.”
To accommodate the students, both boys and girls, the volunteers have divided the hall of the Imam Bara into different sections where students from 1st to 8th standard sit. The seminary has been reserved for Class 8, 9 and 10 students while the library is where Class 11 and 12 students are taught.
The volunteers have constructed a system to manage the centres. To teach students from Class 1 to 5, persons with a graduate degree and to teach students from Class 6 to 10, post-graduates have been assigned the job of teaching. Among the fourteen teachers, four professors who teach at prominent colleges of the city have joined them. The professors teach subjects of medical, science, commerce and arts to students of Class 11 and 12.
“The numbers are growing now. We have students from Nishat, Lal Bazar, Nawa Kadal and Baramulla. We are making these efforts to please Allah,” Khalid said.
Just a kilometer away from Rainawari, people of three localities in Khanyar have set up another centre in a community hall. Arifa, a local, has been made the administrator of the centre where 300 students are being given education.
“After Geelani sahab made an announcement to start education at the local level, I approached the head of my locality to make this a reality. The heads of two other localities joined us. I went door-to-door to find teachers. We have now 20 teachers. There is a teacher with an MPhil degree and others are post-graduates and graduates,” Arifa, who is herself a teacher at a private school, told Kashmir Reader.
The students at the two centres are from different schools, including prominent ones like Biscoe and Burnhall. The day at both centres starts at 9am and lasts till evening. Volunteers have made shifts for teachers and time-table for students.
The tuition centres have gained popularity since news came of prominent government schools of Srinagar having been occupied by paramilitary BSF and CRPF troops. Despite repeated appeals by the government to students to return to school, it looks like that the people of Downtown have taken upon themselves the responsibility of educating their children.