By Akeel Rashid
Just like the Government in Kashmir relocates the location and operations of its offices during the winter period from Srinagar to warmer Jammu city, similarly, the teachers do the same thing with the schools, by virtually relocating them, they teach students at other places in so-called tuition centres. Continuing the regular class work during winters in schools is thought to be a difficult task while as the same thing is done easily at the ‘tuition centres’ by the teachers for reasons better known to them. First of all, it is wrong to call something as ‘tuition’ which pertains to unconventional way of teaching. The very word ‘tuition’ only fits with the conventional mode of education which conforms with certain rules and standards. Until now, the J&K high court and the government remain(s) divided over the issue of private teaching- actually the issue which stems from the government’s non-policy on winter vacations.
Why the authorities have window-dressed the epitome of ‘Darbaar Move’ with the phrase winter vacations? If the winter break in schools is announced so that the students can get some respite from the cold weather conditions, why does the government allow opening of ‘alternative schools’? There is no doubt that these alternative schools make adequate heating arrangements for the students and thus they have every reason to conduct winter classes. If conditions for the winter classes can be made favourable in these alternative schools, then why can’t be the same thing done in the conventional schools. After all it is the same people at both places who make the possibility of winter classes a success.
There are also some schools in Kashmir which have been taking classes during the winter period. Teaching their students in winters is not a wrong thing but charging extra money for the same is unethical. Why do these private schools charge for winter classes besides charging the regular tuition fee as well?
The teacher community which facilitates the establishment of these alternative schools in winter season prefers to remain silent because the commencement of winter classes means the start of their heydays by letting them to make an extra buck on the side. There is no denying the fact that the education sector of Kashmir has got the best teachers but we are yet to see any reformers in the sector who would improve and reform the education system of Kashmir which remains rife with generational problems.
With the Government already having started the registration of so-called tuition centres, it has formally accepted to allow the operation of ‘alternative schooling’ system during winter season. Now government should also bring these alternative schools under the ambit of authority so that they be recognized officially as an alternative to conventional schools. This move will bring accountability in these institutions and will also deter private schools from charging the regular tuition fee for the winter months.
Apparently, the winter break is not a leisure time for the students to spend away from schools but the break arises out of necessity and thereby arises a need for alternative schooling. The government is duty-bound to regulate the unauthorized system of alternative schooling, already in place.
—The author is a student of international relations at IUST, Awantipora. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org