Srinagar: The State Board of School Education issued the dates for Class 10 and Class 12 annual examinations on Friday, the 85th day of the raging anti-India uprising during which shops, educational institutions, offices and businesses have remained closed.
The government has been reiterating that these examinations would be held as per routine dates in a bid to use the mobilisation of thousands of students and the staff that will ensue to undermine the regular protest calendars issued by the resistance camp.
Barring the control enforced by tens of thousands of policemen, paramilitary soldiers and soldiers, the government writ has virtually disappeared in the valley, especially south Kashmir.
A BOSE notification said the annual examination for class 10 will begin on November 15 and conclude on November 28, while the class 12 examination will begin on November 15 and conclude on December 3, 2016.
The announcement has baffled the students, their parents and teacher community, who said the decision to announce examination schedule is arbitrary and overlooks the ground situation.
“Even if the schools re-open tomorrow the class 10 students will get just 22 days for preparation. It shows the date sheet is not to benefit the students but to agonise them further,” said Ashiq Hussain, a government school teacher.
He said the first priority must be on re-opening of schools and bringing the students back into studies mode.
Like in 2010, the authorities are trying tooth and nail to re-open schools to counter the uprising, which shows no signs of dying down.
The government had closed schools on July 1 for summer vacations but they could not re-open on July 15 because of the widespread public protests, which were put down with ruthless force that has been condemned worldwide. Many school children are among the 85 people who have been killed by the government forces since July 9.
Education Minister Naeem Akhtar attempted every effort to re-open schools from quoting scriptures to threatening the teachers, but the attempts failed in the wake of blasting situation across the valley.
“It is easy to issue orders from the office chambers in the civil secretariat but it is difficult for the parents to allow their child to go out in an atmosphere that resembles war,” said Riyaz Ahmad Shah, a parent from Anantnag district.
“I can afford my children to lose a few more days in studies rather than losing their life and limb,” he said.
The schools are primarily closed because the pro-freedom camp is repeatedly issuing shutdown calendars. The parents say that the government must negotiate with the pro-freedom leaders and persuade them to call of the strike, Shah said. “How is it possible to re-open schools when there is a call for shutdown?” he asked.
Kashmir Private Schools Association said on Wednesday that the “reign of terror” unleashed by the government forces in the valley is the major deterrent in the re-opening of schools.
“Not content with killing students, the government forces have killed teachers too and vandalised and destroyed school properties. Hundreds of our students have been targeted with pellets,” association’s president Ghulam Nabi Var said in a recent statement. He cited the example of 11-year-old Nasir Shafi Qazi, a student of Greenlight School Nishat, who was killed by pellets last week.
“He was just a child. He was not involved in any stone pelting and government forces didn’t spare him too. What is the guarantee that lakhs of our students will be safe in case schools are resumed,” said Var.
“In Shopian, government forces unleashed such a terror on civilians that class VII student Khushboo died of cardiac arrest. Students are not safe in their homes. How can they be secure in schools?” he asked.
The board examinations were scheduled in the first week of October but according to the new dates, they have been delayed by more than a month and a half.
“We have to complete the process of conduct of examination and declaration of results by the end of this year so that the students are well prepared to appear in competitive examinations like CET, NEET, JEE etc next academic session,” an official of the education department said.