SHOPIAN: If students stop going to colleges, whose fault is it? In south Kashmir, where student attendance has fallen to almost zero, there are various versions of who is to blame.
“Parents should take a look at the education of their children,” says Principal of Government Degree College Shopian, Ali Muhammad. “There remains almost zero attendance in autumn when people employ their children in apple-picking and horticulture chores. The talent of students, their precious education, gets adversely affected.”
Ali Mohammad rues that the college has 80 teaching staff who take crores of rupees in salaries for “doing nothing”.
“But the fault is of the students, who don’t come. Such a huge amount that the government spends on teachers’ salaries and infrastructure goes waste,” he said.
Dr Mushtaq Ahmad, Principal of Government Degree College Pulwama, told Kashmir Reader that not just decline in attendance, south Kashmir colleges were facing decline in enrolment as well.
“We used both print and electronic media to make students aware about the importance of attendance and college life. We even conducted seminars. Parents should come forward to take responsibility for what their children are doing. We do counselling in the campus to motivate students to come to classes, lectures, discussions, but they don’t turn up. I feel the situation is alarming,” Dr Ahmad said.
Kashmir Reader talked to many students about why they don’t go to college. One of them said that last year he attended classes for only four days. When asked the reason, he said that other students, too, did not come for classes.
Most of the students of arts and commerce streams said they did not bother to go to college.
The government’s scrapping of the system of minimum attendance is another reason that is cited by college administrators. One of the college principals Kashmir Reader talked to said that attendance short of minimum was earlier a ground to bar students from sitting in exams. But this qualification was removed a few years ago.
“There were also college-based examinations the marks of which were later added to the general marks sheet. But the government scrapped this, too, and now colleges have no authority to bar students from examinations or to motivate them for attending classes,” the college principal said.
Javid Ahmad, a teacher at a south Kashmir degree college, said that the government wants to maintain law and order, for which it discourages students from coming to college. The scrapping of minimum attendance and college-level exams is aimed in that direction, he said.
“They believe if less students go to college there would be less law and order issues,” Ahmad said.