Srinagar: The “lengthy” list of public holidays is hampering the efforts of the education department to restore the academic calendar that was disrupted because of the uprising last year.
Vice-Chancellor of the Central University of Kashmir, Prof Mehraj-ud-din Ahmad, says that there is an urgent need to curtail the holiday list.
“I have been wishing for years that the government curtails the lengthy list. Given the circumstances here of frequent shutdowns coupled with natural calamities, the lengthy list of holidays puts extra burden on the already piled-up backlog,” Ahmad said.
There are nearly 30 public holidays ranging from religious festivals to birth anniversaries declared by the J&K government. Even if a particular festival is celebrated in a particular region, schools and government offices in the entire state are closed.
Chairman of the Private Schools Association of Kashmir (PSAK), GN Var, said that the private schools want to keep schools open on “less important” holidays but the government is forcing them to remain closed.
“Why should we shut down our schools on a day when a particular festival is being celebrated in some other region? We have already lost a large amount of time and we are trying to restore it, but unfortunately the government doesn’t seem to be happy with it. Here (in Kashmir) where uncertainty prevails every day, we consider ourselves fortunate if we get a working day,” Var said.
Var said that the association is planning to make their own academic calendar where they would designate “genuine” holidays to be observed in all private schools registered with PSAK.
“Yesterday (on Friday), the Chief Education Officer of Islamabad forced one of our private schools to shut down citing the public holiday of Meiraj Alam in Kashmir. When parents and teachers were ready and didn’t complaint in sending their wards to schools, why is the administration impeding it?” he said.
Mohammad Ibrahim, a teacher in a high school in Srinagar, said that during the past three years, there has been chaos in both government and private schools due to the disruption in the academic calendar.
“Rather than from the view of the government employee, we should see from the academic perspective. Every month, we lose nearly half the month due to strikes and holidays, including Sundays. How will we succeed in completing a month’s academic calendar in half the month?” Ibrahim said.
Kashmir University has already been forced to postpone its exams due to the civil unrest. The yearly entrance examinations that usually were held in March are likely to be held in May.
“The delay has happened due to the huge backlog in conducting examinations. The university started a double shift last year to increase the intake. Examinations of many batches are yet to be held because of last year’s uprising and the less number of working days due to the public holidays,” an official of the university said.