Change Of Gear
Shift In School Academic Calendar In Kashmir Offers Both Benefits And Challenges
The School Education Department is all set to shift the academic session of Kashmir to
the March-to-March cycle. The Education Department has put all its machinery to work
out to work on the new template and resolve the challenges it may encounter in
starting the session in March.
The Higher Education Department had earlier shifted the academic session to July, to
get it at par with the national academic calendar. The School Education Department is
determined to adopt the uniform academic session. This is not an easy job, like
comparatively for the Higher Education Department.
The process of shifting the academic session to March was initiated after the J&K Chief
Secretary (CS) Dr Arun Kumar Mehta said in April this year that Jammu and Kashmir will
fully implement the National Education Policy (NEP-2020) from the current academic
session. He also announced that the UT will adopt the uniform academic calendar
synchronized to the national academic calendar.
Different Climactic Regions
Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory is comprised of two geographical divisions which
are climatically opposed. Jammu region is extremely hot in summer. Kashmir valley is
extremely cold in winter. Given the different climatic zones in Jammu and Kashmir,
Jammu region follows the March-to-March academic cycle. Kashmir used to follow the
November-to-November academic cycle.
The Board of School Education conducts annual examinations of the same class in two
different academic cycles. The toppers of Class 10 and 12 are also different for both
Mohammad Aariz, a Class 11 student shared his confusion with Kashmir central.
“Jammu and Kashmir is one union territory. So why should we have two different
toppers in any particular class or subject stream?” he questioned. Aariz said that a
sizable number of students are agreeable that if the uniform academic calendar is
adopted, J&K UT will have a single topper, who will represent the entire region and not
a particular division.
In this regard, a committee was constituted by the School Education Department to
suggest measures and also the modus-operandi on the basis of which the government
would make an official announcement for shifting exams to March. The committee has
enlisted the concerns raised in the past as well as during the previous regimes which
had initiated a process for shifting to the March session of exams. The decision could
not be implemented due the geographical disadvantage faced in some areas in Kashmir
and also in some winter zones of Jammu.
‘Change Comes With Merits, Demerits’
Jaffer Ahmad, the owner of a private school, said that the decision of the School
Education Department to shift the academic session can't be called a cent percent good
step. “Whenever there is a change, it has both advantages and disadvantages. This time
the move has created doubts among the students as they had been preparing for the
annual exams, which they expected would be held n December 2022. If the session is
shifted to March, the examination will be conducted in March 2023. We teachers have
to teach the students, no matter where and how. I know that many of us support the
move,” said Jaffer.
A teacher engaged in a coaching centre in Anantnag said that most of his colleagues
have covered the entire syllabus for the students. “November onwards, we are used to
teaching new students. Shifting the session to March may have negative impact for a
season on the coaching centre. I wonder whether the owner shall reduce our salary,
because teaching at the centre is the only source of income for some staff members,”
said this gentleman who did not want to reveal his name.
Kashmir Central repeatedly tried to connect with top officers of the School Education
Department to understand the merits and demerits of shifting the academic session, but
they remained out of reach. We hope that the move towards a uniform academic
calendar becomes a new start to synchronize the academic cycle of Kashmir with the
‘Uniform Academic Calendar Shall Help Us’
Problems Faced By Kashmiri Students In Moving Outside Valley For Education, Or For
Seeking Admission To Professional Colleges
School students highlight that they face problems when they seek to move to Jammu or
other regions in the country for higher studies. Shahid Hussain told Kashmir Central,
“My father is a government employee. In 2008, he took me with him to Jammu when he
got transferred there. It was November, and I had just cleared the annual examination
for Class 7. We went to Jammu for seeking admission in the next class. My father visited
so many schools in Jammu in late November for seeking my admission. Each school
refused to admit me, because their current session was going on, and it would conclude
in March next year. I had to wait for five long months to seek admission in Class 8 in
Shahid recalls that during these five months, he studied all the subjects at length and
topped the class. “After two years, my father was transferred back to Kashmir. It was
March. I had passed Class 9. We came to Kashmir, but the session here had started in
November the previous year. I took admission in a school in Kashmir, but the class had
completed nearly half the syllabus. I struggled to catch up. At the end of the year, my
performance was below average. If at that time the uniform academic session had been
adopted in Jammu and Kashmir, I would not have suffered in Class 10,” said Shahid.
May Benefit Students Seeking Admission To Professional Courses
Students who wish to join professional courses after Class 12 also have to wait for many
months for competitive entrance examinations. They pass their final examinations in
November, but have to wait for six months to appear in the professional entrance
examination, which wastes precious time.
Shifting the academic session to March has many merits for the students of the Kashmir
valley. But at the same time, there are many areas in Kashmir which remain nearly cut
off from Kashmir for five to six months in year due to heavy snowfall. These include
Keran, Machail, Gurez, Karnah and some parts of the Chenab valley like Dachan,
Marwah and Warwan. These areas too usually remain cut off from the valley or their
respective district headquarters. Due to high snowfall in these regions, road connectivity
remains suspended. If the School Education Department has some definite roadmap to
synchronize the academic calendar in these areas with the rest of the Union Territory, it
shall be useful.