And now we dare to dream…

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Faleen Wani

THE youth and the education system in the Valley have passed through a long, dark tunnel of uncertainty.

It’s no overstatement to say that the insurgency in J&K significantly harmed educational opportunities for the Valley’s youth. The schools would mostly either shut down during the early half of the 1990s or the access routes to them would be blocked, if the terrorists hadn’t already destroyed them that is.

And even if the schools were open, students would be unable to attend classes because of frequent cordoning off and search operations, crackdowns, or strikes. This use of force by the fanatics, hijacked the exam system until the middle of the 1990s. The youth became involved in gun culture in the late 1980s, which birthed insurgency and militancy in the 1990s.

The insurgency caused significant damage to the educational system since it resulted in the burning of numerous schools, institutions, and other educational facilities. Despite the development of several infrastructures in the years that followed, the demand for educational resources, aids, and programs to improve the teaching faculty were completely disregarded.

The insurgency in J&K significantly widened the gap between education and students. The unfriendly climate interfered with the efficient delivery of education, which infuriated the students.

Students would frequently experience anxiety, threat, and depression. The academic system was disorganised and unstable. The interruption of education amid conflict impacted students’ academic performance as well as their emotional and social development and this has been a major concern.

With the historic repeal of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir’s educational infrastructure has not only seen improvement but has also advanced in the right direction.

With the full backing of the federal government, the Jammu and Kashmir government is moving quickly to ensure that its educational infrastructure is small, modern and relevant.

The government has placed a strong emphasis on value-based education, which aims to foster personal development independent of scientific and technological expertise. To adapt to the demands of a rapidly evolving educational system and shifting market realities, UT’s education sector is undergoing big transformation.

The government of Jammu and Kashmir is ‘paying sustained attention’ to providing the long-disenfranchised, disadvantaged segment of the society with quality education. With the adoption of NEP, Jammu and Kashmir has adopted the national curriculum model used by other states and Union Territories. The UT will now follow the syllabus and format recommended by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The higher education sector is changing for the better as well. The J&K government has instructed senior officers in schools and higher education to implement all schemes and projects, envisioning a noticeable improvement in the current curriculum, as well as starting numerous creative new projects and activities.

One of the most important benefits of the transformation following the implementation of Article 370 has been the smooth operation of educational institutions. Schools and institutions have stayed open despite the difficulties encountered throughout the changeover, giving students access to a consistent and uninterrupted learning environment.

The basic through higher secondary school examination period was moved from November to March by the Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE).

Athar Hussain, a government school teacher, says, “Before the abrogation, the schools barely opened because of the protests and day-to-day encounters between the security forces and the militants.

People would taunt us saying we were taking salary even as we were not working. We hardly knew who our students were as we would see them only during exams and that too, not all of them. That surely has changed.

After a long break, schools are functioning properly and all around the year. Without any untoward breaks, students are finding it easy to get knowledge and are curious too. I am glad that the dark clouds of ignorance have been lifted and we get to be good teachers to our students and draw salary for what we do”.

 

Toiba, a student says: “Attending school, meeting friends and learning is all that a school-going person wants. When I had to sit at home and witness the violence on television or newspapers, it devastated me. But now I feel free and so do my friends. We no longer fear that our schools will close on account of violence.

Now we are hopeful that we will study hard and get to become what we have always wished to become – doctors, engineers, teachers. I want to be a scientist and I know if I study well at school I will become one. And school is the first step in achieving that and I am glad that our schools are functioning well”.

 

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