The continuing strife in Kashmir is not only harming the State’s economy but also the education sector, as students are either out on the roads participating in protests or are confined to homes due to the frequent shutdowns.
Schools and colleges in the Valley were shut for 32 days after reopening on March 5. Fearing student protests after terrorist killings or civilian deaths, authorities ordered their closure. Ali Mohammad, a retired teacher, said education should be delinked from politics.
“We cannot keep our students hostage to the situation. The closure of schools and colleges hit students hard, especially kindergarten children as special techniques are used to teach them.” In 2017, after major student protests over security forces raid on a college in Pulwama, authorities had to close educational institutions and order early summer vacations. Student protests have continued this year too.
On April 2, Baramulla police detained 70 students who were pelting stones on cops, during protests against the rape and murder of 8-year-old Kathua nomad girl. The youngsters were released after counseling but student protests continue in central, north and south Kashmir.
The government had on April 22 ordered closure of all private coaching centres in the Valley in view of the student protests. The move evoked resentment forcing the government to lifted the ban on May 2. Political analyst Aadil Ahmed says the government needs to handle student protests with care.
“The government should find ways to reach out to students and talk to them rather than using force,” he said. To compensate for academic losses, the authorities have asked institutions to arrange extra classes and ensure timely completion of syllabus. The government is also contemplating keeping schools open on gazetted holidays and Sundays in case of shutdowns and closure of schools owing to security reasons.