SRINAGAR: Officially, schools are open in Kashmir. Only, nobody wants to go, not children, not teachers. With stone-pelters active in the streets, nobody wants to take a risk.
This has been the state of affairs in the nearly 12,000 schools across the valley for more than two months now despite the efforts of the Mehbooba Mufti government to get education back on the rails.
And the annual exams are less than a month away. “These protests have caused irreparable damage to the education system in the valley,’’ an official in the state education department said, speaking to Express on condition of anonymity.
According to him, most schools have not completed even 50 per cent of the syllabus.
“The government has to take a decision whether to postpone the exams or cut back on the syllabus for the exam,’’ he said.
Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar has held several meetings with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Governor N N Vohra and senior officials on the question of the disruption to the academic calendar.
“The police say they will provide protection to schools but teachers and students have to come. There have been several instances of children and teachers getting hurt when caught between the security forces and the stone pelters,’’ an education department official said.
In many places, even teachers and students have joined the protests. “Should we send our kids to die? Look at the situation. People are throwing stones, and the forces are retaliating.
There have been so many instances of children suffering pellet gun injuries. We cannot even think of sending them to school,’’ said Nisar Ahmed, a resident of Budgam whose daughter Amera is a Class VIII student of a government school.
One of the options before the government is to promote all students without conducting exams. “A similar situation arose when exams could not be conducted during the Amarnath land row in 2008, and the then government promoted all students,’’ the education official said.
Said Director-General of Police K Rajendra Kumar, the chief of the state police force, “We have assured full security from our side but parents and teachers have to take the initiative. The safety and security of students and teachers is our responsibility and we will take all measures to keep them safe.’’
A similar assurance came from the paramilitary force engaged in controlling protests as well. “We will be more than happy to see normalcy return and if children start going to school, then that would be good news,’’ a senior official of the Central Reserve Police Force said.