The unrest of any kind in Kashmir takes a heavy toll on the fragile system of education. It derails the process and brings in chaos. The stakeholders in the education system– from scholars to teachers—in general and investors (in the private sector) to the helmsmen of the sector, be it at the school education level or in the higher education institutions, are affected by this derailment in one way or the other.
Since the armed insurgency broke out in Jammu and Kashmir and the law and order situation worsened, the education sector became the prime target.
The academic calendar lost its rhythm and everything related to the activity went awry. There have been efforts to bring the system back to rails but they have not been successful. The basic reason for the failure is the security situation in the Valley that often remained highly unpredictable.
The year 2016 was disastrous for the education sector. Before the Kashmir Valley slipped into an unprecedented public uprising following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, the government had closed down the schools on account of summer vacations.
The unrest that followed, disallowed the students to return to their institutions and this situation continued for five months. The situation remained even worse for the institutions of higher education including the colleges, universities, national institute of technology, medical and engineering colleges and polytechnic institutions.
On the face of it, the managers of the education system sought to keep the ship floating by holding examinations on a reduced syllabi or mass promotion to the students in lower classes but the fact remains that this exercise was a technical requirement rather than saving the essence of education.
Ironically, the harsh winter succeeded the public uprising and despite slight improvement on the law and order front, the winter months could not prove to be highly favourable for the education sector.
The re-opening of educational institutions on the onset of spring season was deemed to be a seamless season ahead to compensate for the losses incurred on the sector in the previous year. The teachers and students also began the activity with added zest to redouble their efforts. But this tempo could not last for two months.
The events that have taken place for the past more than a week have again begun to ring the alarm bells. Ironically, this time it is directly the education sector that has become the center of unrest. If it were the separatists last year announcing protest calendars to close down the educational institutions, this time around, for different reasons, it is the divisional administration that has taken up the role to announce schools and colleges shut on almost daily basis.
The government forces’ swooping on degree college students in Pulwama on April 15 has took such an emotive turn that thousands of students turned to streets to express solidarity and resent the attitude of the government forces against their tribe.
The government has announced some measures to avoid repetition of Pulwama incident. It is important to take corrective measures and fix responsibilities in the Pulwama incident and subsequent incidents of highhandedness against the student community before asking the students to resume their routine work. The students must also realize that they have lost a lot of time last year and they can ill-afford to spend another year on streets rather than learning their lessons inside their classrooms. The education activity must begin immediately and continue seamlessly throughout the calendar year. This is the larger benefit of the society.