SHIFT IN KASHMIR’S ACADEMIC CALENDAR

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Shift In Kashmir’s Academic Calendar

by Bisma Nazir 

Move has definite benefits for senior school students, but challenges may be faced in holding exams in snow-bound areas in March

The decision of uniform academic calendar of the winter zone in Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country has got a mixed response from the stakeholders. The decision of shifting the annual examinations from November to March for all the classes in Kashmir valley was taken by the School Education Department in October this year, taking into consideration the challenges faced by the students community. The reason was that the students here did not have uniformity on this account with the rest of the country.

The students of Kashmir valley appeared in exams in the October- November session. But throughout the country, examinations are conducted during March- April every year. The uniformity in the examination calendar in the rest of the country provides equal opportunity to the students to appear in examinations for future courses both in professional and academic streams. This uniformity in the examination calendar had drawbacks for the students in Kashmir valley.

The national level eligibility tests are conducted soon after the results are declared in the month of May every year. At that time, the students of the Kashmir valley were in the middle of the academic session.

The synchronization of the academic calendar for school education with the rest of the country will help the students of Kashmir to prepare for the national level examination for professional and academic courses, and bridge the time gap of six months in one go.

In other quarters, the opinion is that shifting the examinations to March shall create a mess for the students of Kashmir valley. According to those who hold this opinion, the November session was giving ample time to the students to prepare for professional courses.

 

 

 

Managing Editor Kashmir Central Bisma Nazir with DSEK Dr. Tasaduq Hussain Mir, KAS

While talking to Kashmir Central, Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) Dr. Tasaduq Hussain Mir, KAS, rejected the aspersions casted by the critiques of the March session. He said that uniformity in the academic calendar is in the interest of the students of Kashmir valley.

Dr Mir said that the argument put forth by the critiques is flawed. “The uniform academic calendar saves six months of time gap of the students. Our students had to wait from November to May to appear in the professional examinations. That issue stands addressed,” Dr Mir told Kashmir Central.

Director Education said that there are some challenges other than what a section of people is talking about. “The real challenge is that around 15% of the examination centres will be snow bound in March, making it difficult for us to conduct the examinations of these areas with the rest of the valley. The upper reaches of Kupwara , Bandipora, Ganderbal and Shopian districts will be under snow during March,” Dr Mir said.

He pointed out that the Board of School Education and the Education Department have no other option but to conduct the examinations in snow-bound areas a month later in mid-April. He said that Keran, Machil and Tanghdar in Kupwara district, Gurez and Teetwal in Bandipora district, Sonmarg in Ganderbal district and Herpora in Shopian district will likely be under snow in March, and hence it is important to keep this in consideration.

The DSEK said that it shall be a challenge to frame a different set of question papers for these examination centers. “This is the real challenge, as the uniform question paper is the prerequisite for uniform assessment of the students,” he highlighted.

Dr Mir said that another challenge is about making heating arrangements in the examinations centers throughout Kashmir valley. “March is usually cold. Temperatures occasionally dip to sub-zero level. This will make it imperative for the department to make heating arrangements all across the examination centers,” the DSEK said. He said that there is no special provision of funds for making heating arrangements. “We cannot charge the students for making heating arrangements because of the constitutional obligation of providing free education to students,” Dr Mir told Kashmir Central.

It seems that the decision to shift the academic calendar to March for all the classes will be challenging at least for  a couple of years, till the students get used to the change in the academic schedule. Students of the lower classes may face some difficulties because of the unpredictability of the weather in March.

March is cold and rainy. The upper reaches receive more snowfall during this month. The infrastructural deficiencies in the education sector can have an impact on the students of lower classes. On account of global climate change, Kashmir too is witnessing unpredictable weather in March. Over the last few years, the temperatures in March have been unusually on the higher side.

There are still four months to go. The government can do much to improve the infrastructural scenario in the schools. Some long term initiatives can be taken. These will need proper planning and also time for suitable implementation. Well thought out and well implemented measures can resolve the challenges that may be faced for smooth conduct of the annual school examinations in March.

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