By Muzamil Rashid
Students in Kashmir have grown up in the midst of conflict, encounters, bomb blasts, stone pelting and tear gas shelling. These catastrophic by-products of the ongoing conflict in the valley has affected the psychological and physical level of all students who find themselves, for no fault of their own, not only displaced but lacking the opportunity of taking proper examinations as well. Besides this, students’ minds always remain, instead of focusing and concentrating on exams, preoccupied by certain dominant issue: how will we reach to examination centre? How will we appear in exams? Kashmir’s uncertain situation has taken a toll on the region’s education system affecting, in turn a devastating impact on the development of the brain and all functions mediated by this complex organ.
I, being a female student, living in a hamlet in the far flung area of Palpora Khag, District Budgam (Kashmir Valley), faced a lot of problems while reaching my examination centre. The exams were recently held by NTA from 18 – 22 December and were online. It was again a new experience that I was going to have (but not strange for a Kashmiri student). Here you can see many dangerous things being faced by students in their daily lives. (Just imagine the students taking exams under the shadow of tear gas shelling!)
After entering the examination hall, there was a loud noise coming from all around as all students were sneezing. I personally experienced the same, being a victim of chronic allergy. During all the time I was sneezing, which led to tearful eyes and it became difficult for all to read the paper as light was getting reflected into eyes. For me, it was even difficult to understand a given question after reading more than 3 times! The situation was so much disturbing and I began to ask, ‘Who shall I blame?’
A student in Kashmir has to battle enormous issues on a daily basis. Yet the creativity potential and talent of students in Kashmir is enormous. When put to competition with other students across India, we don’t lag behind but we are competing besides facing all these problems from the start of preparations up to the end of the examinations.
How can anyone accept that he got failed at something upon which he really worked hard? How can anyone accept the result reaped which is not proportional to the effort sowed? The issue is of working hard, but still failing to attain the desired results due to this ongoing situation in Valley!! How can anyone accept, after burning mid night oil, he or she will fail due to the disturbing environment created by tear gas?
It is often said that hard work is key to success but this maxim does not seem to be applicable for Kashmir where only students are concentrating on good situation under which they take exams instead of hard work. This depicts that we the students, are always helpless and malaise affecting whole Kashmir.
I personally feel that every examination conducting body should keep in mind the prevailing conditions in Kashmir. It is not easy for Kashmiri girls (and even for boys) to sit in exam at late hours and that too very far away from their residences. Moreover, the temperature of Kashmir has to be kept in mind. You cannot perform 100 percent when there is freezing temperature and no heating facility in the examination centers of valley. Examination conducting bodies including NTA must keep in mind the temperature, conflict nature and the cultural aspects of all the places from where the students are appearing in exams. Students in Kashmir are facing difficult problems and situations that cause great damage to their education and their future career paths.
Let those exam conducting bodies meet and develop a consensus on the fact that no matter what happens in Kashmir, they will not let students suffer especially during their exams.
—The author is a Researcher with a focus on Anthropology. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org