Students reading this article will very well know the situation we have been facing since we were locked down first in August last year and then again in March this year. Much has been written on the subject of the impact of such extended lockdown on education in Kashmir, but still no heed is paid to removing the most stressful factor–exams. A psychiatrist reports that sitting idle at home for months together diminishes creativity. It is the same with students. Neither are they able to access any online classes (being on 2G internet speed) nor are they left with Netflix to binge on. Spending time playing outdoors is not even an option in this Covid-19 situation.
It has been more than seven months that students are staying home after the Government of India locked down the region to prevent protests against abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. The academic loss could have been compensated by online classes. But all of us fail to find logic in restricting internet speed even when everything is fine. According to the Software Freedom Law Centre, internet in Kashmir was blocked at least 180 times from 2012 to 2019.
“We don’t want schooling getting affected but nobody is paying heed to our pleas,” says the president of the private schools’ association in Jammu and Kashmir. To strengthen student resilience during periods of heightened insecurity, teachers and institutions must identify the difficulties that their students may be experiencing. Talking to a few students, we had comments like, “I have not been in touch with books since August 2019.” “They’ve had us promoted (virtually) into next semesters but are telling us to prepare for exams for the previous ones.”
I think our “rule” system should be replaced with a humanitarian system. Some teachers may not like my saying so, but I reside in an area that is quite backward where we’re not aware of what’s going on in the world due to frequently barred internet services in wake of encounters that keep taking place. I have to call my classmates every single day to know what is being taught in the online class. I speak, however, not just for myself but for all the students that I know of.