Verinag: While many in Kashmir only decry the “sorry state of affairs” at government-run schools, this bureaucrat from Anantnag district has decided to take a step forward and contribute a bit, starting by enrolling his own daughter at one of these schools.
A Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) official, Dr Peerzada Farhat and his wife Rafiya Rashid, a government teacher, could very well have afforded the best of private schools in the valley for their 5-year-old daughter, Eshal Bint-e-Farhat.
The couple, from Verinag area of Anantnag district, however chose a government school to enrol their daughter at, with “multiple reasons” driving their decision to do so.
“One of the reasons for us to choose a government school for our daughter was the fact that I have myself studied at a government school,” Farhat told Kashmir Reader. “We cannot just look down upon these schools after we achieve something in life.”
He said that the quality of education has to be better at a government school given the educational qualifications of the teachers in service at these schools.
Farhat, a District Project Manager at Anantnag division of the Industries and Commerce ministry, acknowledges that the state of affairs at government-run schools is not in the best shape.
“But that is the whole point, isn’t it? If my own daughter will be studying at one of these schools, I will be actively participating in the growth and betterment of the institution,” Farhat said.
Farhat, who has completed his higher education in veterinary sciences from Jammu, nowadays regularly visits the Government Middle School at Batgund, Verinag.
“I have some exposure, having studied at some prestigious institutions and having had the good fortune of some travelling. I try to share my exposure and experiences with the school administration to try and make the school a better place to study at,” says Farhat.
He also adds fondly that “there are teachers at the school my daughter is enrolled at who had taught me when I was young.
“So I know she is in safe hands,” he says.
Farhat’s decision was met by an equal amount of both appreciation and criticism from well-wishers.
But he says that he did extensive research of the private institutions and took the decision only after that.
“In private schools these days, I feel, there is an unnecessary pressure over the students,” he said. “Teaching kids nouns and verbs at Nursery or LKG level is not a good idea as far as I am concerned.”
Plus, he says, the unnecessary commute to and from the schools is not a healthy thing for kids at this small an age.
Farhat says that he is now looking out for modern education tools and for ways to make the school adopt them.
“Only the other day, I found out about software for learning English, developed by the Oxford University. I might donate that to the school if they cannot afford it,” he said.
Farhat, some people in the area feel, is not only contributing back to society but he is also setting an example.
“Most of the people who happen to achieve something in life leave villages and move to Srinagar. He has not only stayed back but he is also making sure his young ones also remain connected to their roots,” one of his neighbours told Kashmir Reader.
Others say that Farhat’s decision will take away the tag of “being meant for the marginalised sections of society” from this government school at least.
“Let’s hope other people take a cue,” added another neighbour.