Teachers say it must concentrate on restoring peace first
Amidst student protest against the J&K government’s controversial decision to hold Class 10th and Class 12th examinations in November, teachers in J&K have now come out to accuse the government of “employing pressure tactics” to hold the key examinations under the prevailing unfavorable circumstances.
The teachers said despite the “failure” of the state government to make schools functional in the past three months of anti-India uprising across Kashmir, it was “thrusting exams on students without considering the ground situation.”
“Given the prevailing uprising in Kashmir, the government should have put in efforts to create a congenial atmosphere for students rather than forcing them to sit in exams,” said a headmaster posted in a Government High School in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
He said in the wake of massive repression around in the past three months, “students, parents and teachers are terrified.”
“No parent is willing to send his child to school and no teacher dares to open the school,” he said, insisting not to be named for fear of “government reprisals.”
Decrying the government’s decision to hold the examinations in November, many teachers say the School Education Department and J&K Board of School Education “should have taken us on board before issuing the date-sheets for Class 10th and Class 12th exams.”
“Rather than playing politics over education and examinations, the government should have taken any decision only after considering the ground situation which is certainly not favourable for any academic activity right now,” said a group of school teachers in Srinagar.
Teachers who have served as superintendents during examinations held previously said the present situation “was not feasible for us to go for exam duties, particularly in rural areas.”
“For holding the examinations, teachers have to coordinate with local police stations for collecting question papers and other examination-related material which itself is a huge risk,” they said.
“In Srinagar areas, police stations are located adjacent to exam centres but teachers have to travel several kilometers to collect question papers from police stations in rural areas. Given the anger against police and forces in Kashmir, we could be the direct targets in such circumstances,” the teachers said.
They said the proposal to hold exams in November “must be put for public debate.”
“The Government should ensure parents about safety of their wards who have to appear in the BOSE exams,” said a government teacher posted in Baramulla.
In the prevailing circumstances, he said, holding exams in November “will have adverse consequences.”
“It is not about issuing date sheets. Teachers who will be deployed for exam duty have to control angry students. There are issues of sentiment and anger involved,” said a school principal.
“In any case sanctity of examination has to be maintained. But we are not sure whether teachers will be able to do so this time,” he said.
The teachers accuse the government of “employing pressure tactics” for holding exams “which can put our lives and the lives of students at risk.”
“They should delay the exams by few months and focus on restoration of peace in Kashmir which will give a sense of security to parents and students as well,” a group of parents said.
Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK), Dr Shah Faesal said there can be any substitute to class work but exams have no replacement.
“Students can get online notes or go to private tuitions in case they can’t go to schools. But we don’t have any substitute to exams and can’t be postponed indefinitely,” he said.
“They can come for five days for exams and we believe parents and students will understand the purpose of exams and come. This is what we believe at this point of time.”
He said education can’t be postponed sine-die. “Personally I don’t know when this situation will improve. We have to bite this bitter pill and have to go with exams,” he said.
About the safety of supervising staff and teachers, he said government will take care of all these things.
“We have identified centres and staff is being finalised. I hope people will understand,” he said.