By MALIK NAZIR AHMAD
As speculations go, the Jammu and Kashmir government is all set to pronounce the decision of shifting examinations to spring session from 2019 onwards. A closer understanding of the move would make one believe that the decision would be, in no way, student centric. One would like to ask the architects of this move how would students benefit by this decision?
It is worth mentioning here that Education Minister, Altaf Bukhari appears to keen to do help and thereby benefit students who have lost almost more than a month of education as protests overwhelmed the valley during the initial academic months. While the intentions of the Minister may be genuine, it is important to bear in mind that Kashmiri students are accustomed to the culture of the autumn session and, despite all the impediments of the conflict, the students of Kashmir have proved their mettle post-2010 uprising and emerged as toppers in various examinations of import. The student community of Kashmir is resilient and the shifting of the session is, in no way going to benefit them.
Coming to the technical aspect of the subject, we are familiar with the fact that national level examinations are held in the month of July and finishing the examination in March is going to waste students’ time by almost three months. It will add to the anxiety of the students who are fit and acquainted to prepare themselves during winters for all level examinations because of the geographical and climactic conditions of the valley. It is not possible to continue with winter schooling regularly. As information revealed through various sources the condition of Government school buildings is more chilling than the winter itself. Many a schools are still in dilapidated condition with broken doors, windows and even cracked walls. Some of the schools are overcrowded with students with deficient staff and it is famously believed in Kashmir that government schools are good for nothing. The need of the hour is to change this general perception about government schools by overhauling and improving the infrastructure of the schools and to boost the morale of teachers so that they get encouraged and motivated to work efficiently.
Indeed, the Education Minister has been working hard to give new impetus to the education sector by his efforts but this experimentation is going to yield nothing as all such practices have failed in the past. The instance of Higher Education is sufficient to make one understand the whole situation as it has practically failed to deliver the desired outputs because examinations were never conducted in time which resulted in the mess to the system. The students, who were admitted in first semester in 2017, are yet to appear in the exams of their 2nd semester whereas they should have been in 3rd semester.Similarly, 3rd semester students were admitted to the first semester in the year 2016 and they too are yet to appear in their exams. Students of 5th and 6th semester were admitted in 2015, they are yet to complete their graduation whereas their classmates who opted for graduation outside the state submitted the forms for coming SSRB exams. Now, they have been clubbed and the reduction in syllabus is demanded by the students which mock the defective system because of apathy, non functioning and lack of coordination between the University and various agencies of Higher education. All this is telling upon the future of students. Similar conditions are expected in school education which is already lacking the resources, infrastructure and where, the students are immature in comparison to college students who are mature enough to self study.
To take the decision of shifting the examination session is a matter to be watched out. One should not be surprised if within the short period of time, the move could end up as disaster like it did briefly after the 2014 floods. We attempted, we tested but we failed. Therefore, a closer understanding of the move would make one believe that the decision is either taken in haste or without giving proper thought and the fear is that overwhelming response of the people will prove merely a hoax.
—The author hails from Bandipora. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org