Education in Kashmir: Issues, concerns & way forward
Abid Ahmad Shah
The prosperity and development of a nation is directly proportional to the reckoning educational force. Education is the transition of an individual from unknown to known, darkness to light and so on. Education is the sum total of all-round development of personality of an individual and strives for transformation of his/her life.
It is not merely acquisition of degrees or certificates from educational institutes, but rather an unfaltering tool which facilitates the paradigm shift in a learner in terms of ethical development, morality, decent behaviour, ethical and responsible role towards the society, creation of skills, inculcation of values and good belief systems in the society. Education is a continuous process. It starts from the confines of crave and ceases to operate with the depths of grave. Education moulds an individual into a real human being. It is a grand virtue that delineates a man from animal instincts and makes man a true human being. Education is a sine qua non pre-condition for civilization of a nation. Education is a purposeful and a well planned activity. Education facilitates a learning state in a student from the day one makes inroads within an institution. History is witness to the fact that in earlier times, the centers of learning where Madrassas and Patshalas in India, including Kashmir. Thence after, with the advent of an institutional mechanism in the world, the learning equations underwent a major shift and institutions became the centres of knowledge dissemination and skill creation, with further impetus post-arrival of science and technology and paraphernalia of the post-modern times. Education is today at the fingertips of the masses, but, it is the teacher and the institution that play a pivotal role in the real dissemination of the knowledge and pull a learner towards the state of enlightenment from the confines of the utter neglect and darkness. Even, the globalisation of knowledge has made the facilitation of knowledge easy and at convenience. In union of India, Kashmir region is today in search of peace through the unrelenting struggle of yearnings day-in and day-out where educational sector has suffered massively since 2016.
Issues and concerns
Education in the past was although an enterprise of a few privileged and affluent, but, today in stark contrast, everybody has a bunch of degrees to his/her credit, although variable across the spectrum of specialisation. However, the educational system of Kashmir is beset with a majority of looming problems. The major harm that has been done to the educational sector is due to the political turbulent phases in our state of. Every other day, due to uncertain nature of the situations in Kashmir, the educational institutions are closed. Major portion of the year is lost in the whirlpool of political uncertainty. The recurring uncertain phases of the events have badly affected our educational sector and inflicted a heavy damage thereof. Today, the children are not ready to come to school. Others, who attend the days in the educational institutions lack patience. This is a major concern for the current times. Education is an asset of the nation. Due to prevailing uncertain situation in our state, the students have turned awry. Gone are the days when students used to respect teachers. Today, a single taunt of discipline from a teacher is a heart-wrenching affair. Teachers who suggest the student to modify their behaviour invite ire of their parents. Government has made teachers like handicapped entities as they can’t do anything in the current political crisis. Recently, when in a government institution, the teachers after much parleys denied student’s entry into school on account of proper school shoes, next day, a respectable citizen came fuming and said that don’t mend them, tomorrow, if they pick guns, it will trouble you. What can a teacher do in such a situation? Last year, a teacher had a face off with a media man for the reason that he provoked the former that why the students were not in the school, probably, on 2nd day of Eid. What kind of message one can discern from this. Society even looks through the lens of narrow perspective of the teacher.
A teacher is today a thorn in the eye of the people. He is being victimised by taunts, like he is any hardcore criminal and takes salary from people’s pockets. For God sake, when the wards of these people do not come to school or bunk the classes, is it the fault of a teacher? The major problem is that there should have been some moderate sort of corporal punishment for the students, because in our times, the stick was called as mind-striver (akalnuma) as we bore it. It was long time ago that Zakat Foundation of India chairman, Syed Zaffar Mehmood said that Kashmiri students are highly talented. But, that talent should be nourished and properly channelized under the auspicious aegis of teachers. Besides, the teachers should also focus on the creative aspect of the education. It is not merely the passage of knowledge in the classrooms, rather, there should be an inbuilt medium created by a teacher in the classroom to vent the creative talent of the students. The second most problem in our classrooms is that there are no or less demonstrative activities in the classroom. A classroom should become like a laboratory in itself, where students can themselves perform the activities themselves regarding their lessons, under the guidance of their subject specialist teachers. Another important problem is that parents force themselves on their wards, so far as career choices are concerned, without looking for the inbuilt literary taste of their wards. Long time back, there was medical and engineering craze in Kashmir. Since Dr Shah Faesal topped the IAS in 2010 the wavy nature of the students is caught in the quagmire of civil services as of now. It should not be like this. There is something beyond the confines of short-term visions of goal. There is a plethora of career choices beyond the intermediate level. The proper counselling of students is need of the hour. There should be halt in of parent’s intervention in the student’s career choice and an end to switch-off and switch on mechanisms. Cutting long story short, education as of now in Kashmir is caught in a distraught situation. Well-off people have sent their wards to centres and institutions of excellence. It is the poor who suffers as of now. Children should maximise their learning within minimum of time they get in the academic session of the year. Parents should create an ethical environment in their homes for their wards.
Teachers should change their strategy of learning and move beyond pages of books towards a greater clarity and focus on skill development, demonstrative abilities and research inculcation in the students. This way of a healthy triangular relationship between student, teacher and parents can become a boost in arm for rectifying the faulty system of education in our Kashmir. Every teacher is a good scholar, but that scholastic aptitude must be utilized for students as the world of today’s cut-throat competition demands so. Together, the wheel of education can be pushed towards greater good of the society. Parents should keep a tight vigil on their students and inculcate a spirit of morality in them. This way they can perform as better students of today and best citizens of tomorrow who respect their teacher’s and elders totally. During our college days, some teachers were more inclined towards female students and assigned more marks in practicals to them although we all boys as well as girls attended the classes. This happens even today, that is discrimination in the name of empowerment. Boys should report it to their parents, institution heads and create a media narrative thereof. This will serve as a deterrent. The government has made enormous provisions in the educational institutions in terms of highly qualified teacher’s, infrastructure, scholarships, etc for the students in general and poor in particular. Only what is required is zeal and zest from the students to learn, achieve their goals and make the name of the state and country, time and again, high in achievements.
Education is restructuring societies world over. It has charted a rich discourse since ancient times. God has always been kind enough to man to reveal the knowledge of that which man was unknown to him. Today, when education at the global level has scaled a marvelous route, the role of man in the process cannot be sidelined. Education is a tri-polar process between a pupil, teacher and parent. Teachers have the major responsibility in the whole process. They ought to create a moral and a learning environment in the schools. Also, they must maintain a gap between themselves and the students. There must be moral lessons in the school on behalf of heads of the institutes. The heads should also form moral committees in the institutes to oversee the behaviour of the teachers. Unfortunately, some teachers have brought disrepute to the department by mingling with the minor students. They should keep the sanctity of the profession in vogue and desist from coming close to students. Day in and out, over the social media, reports of student molestation pour in and create unhealthy scenes thereof, which should go. Since, teaching is a noble profession of the ages and a Prophetic profession, a teacher should act as a guide, instructor and pointer in the whole process and not as an exploiter. Due to political uncertainty, the students have lost responsibility and regards for the elders. There are today plunged in the moral bankruptcy. The easy access to social media, addiction substances and finance has ruined their lives. Recently, when a video over social media surfaced with students having wine bottles in a park, it took all the denizens by surprise. Where were the parents of these students? They should look upon their behaviour and keep a tight vigil and watch over them.
The modification of student behaviour is primarily the duty of parents, especially mother who is equated with the first learning abode of a child. The provision of a right moral environment at home can rectify their ills and give them a noble sense of role and respect vis-a-vis students. The students ought to soak themselves in moral devotion vis-a-vis teachers and elders. Finally, the role of the government is mandatory. Government should oversee the work and conduct in the educational institutions of the valley and observers should be chosen for this noble work. There must be rewards for good teachers and erring ones, particularly blot on the face of education should be put to task to set a strong precedent for the others that morality is a non-compromising entity and it has to be followed in letter and spirit. Also, CCTV cameras should be installed in the schools and colleges to keep a tab on the happenings. This way we can envision an educationally sound environment for the overall socio-economic development of our state J&K.