By Mohammad Farooq Wani
Every passing day, there is something new that appears in the daily newspapers on behalf of the authorities of the education department about the changing pattern in academics or the exam sessions that simply embarrass students, parents and the public in general because there is no change in the system even if announcements are made by the department. The so called innovations to make academics and change in the system of examination remains just confined to a few without taking experts in to confidence. The deteriorating factor behind academics or in making transfers of teachers without transparency is largely due to political and bureaucratic interventions. The decision being taken for the change of examination from November to March, being a case in point, should be done in consultation with top academicians, keeping in view the topography and weather conditions of Kashmir.
When the November session is shifted to March, it means that students have to attend classes every during snow or rain and the teachers who are currently avail winter/ summer breaks shall have to attend the classes regularly regardless of the weather conditions. Once, you keep schools open during winter months , the teachers will be entitled to salary equal to the winters as is in the case of non vocational staff who do avail the benefit of earned leave on full pay. Once, you make teachers non vocational it means you have to pay them the salary for 10 months which anyone can keep at his/ her credit without availing and you have to pay them the salary equal to 10 months at the time of superannuation or the teacher may proceed on leave during summer months on full pay. All this I will hamper academics in the schools once a particular teacher remains away from the school. This will also add in the additional burden on the government exchequer as the government coffers seem dry for the reasons not exactly known and which is evident from around 50k teachers working under SSA scheme are without salary since the past many months. The Government is well aware about weather conditions in the valley and the inadequate arrangements in the schools besides inadequate infrastructure; most of the schools are without electricity and drinking water facilities (even majority of schools are without doors and windows not to talk of glass panes).
Once, the valley of Kashmir is covered under a white snow blanket, how can a student or the teacher attend his or her school when transport does not ply on the roads. These are some hard issues that need to be discussed threadbare with the experts. Once, the snow shows its teeth, you can’t ask teachers to be in the school when during harsh conditions even parents don’t allow their wards to go to schools without any proper heating arrangement there.
Let us take a look at our schools very calmly and see whether we can go for March session from the November one.
It is a tough task during winter months as we even fail to get transport then as most of the roads are not macadamized or not connected with all main roads. We have narrow Kacha roads and no transport can ply on these. Let us not look at main Srinagar streets; we must take stock of road connectivity in rural areas where it is abysmal. If the authorities are sincere is imparting quality education to students then it needs to devise a strategy where every teacher is imparted refresher courses in his or her relevant subjects which can prove beneficial for the primary class students as primary class stage can build future of the students. Let us not be aggressive with the teaching fraternity because they are part and parcel of the society and are called nation builders.
The shifting of exam session from November to March must therefore be done only after consulting experts and well conversant academicians.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org