March 2017 News

Govt, Separatists Should Never Use Education To Fulfil Their Agendas

2 March 2017
The Indian Express
Mir Ehsan

Srinagar: Wearing colorful uniforms holding school bags in the wee hours, students waited at bus stops in every nook and corner of the Valley as it was after eight months that schools opened in Kashmir. After the unrest that began with the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani in south Kashmir last July, the Valley witnessed series of protests in which more than 90 civilians were killed and thousands injured, mostly with pellets. Since then the schools remained shut due to prolonged separatist sponsored strikes and curfews, that stretched for months together. And when situation normalized, the winter had already arrived forcing closure of schools for another three months owing to winter break. During all these eight months, majority of the students were confined to the four walls of their homes. As both the private and government schools opened on Wednesday, it will be first time after July 7 when schools will remain functional. In these eight months, due to the closure of schools, the student's especially young children faced trauma like situations who always questioned their parents why the schools are shut and when schools will be opened again. On its part, the government announced mass promotion for the students of lower classes, whereas the students enrolled in X and XII classes were asked to sit in exams held in November last year. As the students had not completed the syllabus, the government gave a relaxation and asked the students to prepare for exams for only 50 percent syllabus. The results of these examinations were out in January this year. Infact, by asking the students to appear for exams and the conduct of these successfully, the beleaguered government of J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti managed to earn some brownie points, as it used the education system to corner the separatists and score a political point against them. But in this mudslinging and politicking, the education and the young children were a real casualty. The separatists refused to relent and relax the shutdown calendars at the peak of Kashmir unrest, saying that education of the students can wait and targeted the government for firing pellets on young children. On its part, the state government was hell bent on opening the schools in an atmosphere where the Kashmiri streets were patrolled by the gun yielding government forces and the stone hurling youth, thus creating a perplexing situation for the hapless parents who wanted to educate their wards, but were equally concerned about their safety as well. While some affluent families managed to send their children to Jammu and outside state to pursue education but almost 99 percent of students got affected due to the prolonged shutdowns and the curfews. In the opening of schools after a long pause, however, there is a message for both government and separatist's leadership that they should never try to use education for politics or fulfilling their own agendas. Time has come when those who are at the helm of affairs in the government or in the separatist camp should spare schools and young children and should realize that time never returns and a single mistake could put at stake future of thousands of young boys and girls. Besides, the government can enable a tension free atmosphere by taking some confidence building measures on the ground, like resumption of the stalled dialogue process and release of scores of youth who are still languishing in jails. Otherwise, the dreadful situation like that of 2016, will always keep lurking over Kashmir.

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