SRINAGAR: The ringing alarm clock at 6:30 on a chilly February morning makes Sania, 17, restless. Her eyes open to a single worry: will she make it to her tuitions in time.
A resident of Lal Bazar, Sania, has to attend her first tuition at 7:30am despite a directive from Education department (SRO 435 Edu of 2010) that no coaching center can take classes before 9 am.
The teacher, who teaches biology at his home in downtown at 7:30 am to around 100 students including Sania insisted that it was the students who pushed him to teach.
“Otherwise I had left private teaching many years ago.”
The teacher has a day job which does not leave him with the flexibility of rescheduling the tuition classes.
“You can confirm it from my office if I have ever been late or left the office early. I cannot betray my job and hence cannot change the timings,” he said adding that he prefers to teach children of his locality.
Another veteran teacher who takes his class at a coaching centre at 8:00am also put the blame on students.
“I tell my students to come to the centre at 10 am but they arrive at 8, what I am supposed to do, I can’t force them,” he said.
His students, however, contested the claim.
“We have requested him (teacher) many times to change the timings, especially during the winter as we have miss our classes many times due to snow or rain,” the students said.
Similarly, Sania says she had to move to her maternal home to ensure that she makes to the early morning classes in time.
“I had requested both the teachers to change the timings, but they did not listen. So finally I had to move my maternal home, and my uncle drops me in his car now,” she said.
Ruhana, another student from Eidgah, said that girls have to face more problems because of early classes.
“We don’t have the freedom to seek lifts from strangers, so it becomes even harder for us,” she said.
Early morning classes have become a headache for the parents too, and some worried about the safety of their wards accompany them.
“The weather poses serious risk to their health. And with ever growing dog population in the city you have to be cautious,” said Syed Abid, a parent who accompanies his daughter to the tuition center.
Abid said he and many other parents had requested teachers to change the timings. “We request the authorities to look into the matter,” he said.
Doctors agree that early morning classes in the winters were a health hazard.
“The morning classes can lead to serious health issues among children. The temperatures dropped to minus 8 degrees in January and having to brave the chill is something our children should not be doing as it can lead to illness among them, the teachers should find other timings suitable for our students,” said Dr Mir Mushtaq, Spokesperson Doctors Association of Kashmir.
G N Shakir Spokesperson of the Education department told Kashmir Reader, “Any coaching centre that functions before 9am in the morning is violating the government order.” However, he added that he wasn’t aware of tuitions centres flouting the orders.