STUDENTS TAKE TO STREETS
Stage Demos, Complain Of Pitiable Facilities
Srinagar, Dec 14: A day before the Jammu and Kashmir government’s much-hyped winter schooling initiative is scheduled to take off, the student community Tuesday took to streets to protest the move in view of the “dismal facilities” in educational institutions.
At least two dozen students belonging to classes 9th and 10th of a prominent private school here staged demos in Press Enclave, seeking winter vacations. Wearing red-colour uniform, the students shouted anti-winter schooling slogans, accusing the state government of putting them to unnecessary inconvenience. “It is unfortunate that the government has asked us to be present in the school where there are no heating arrangements. There are no heaters in the classrooms. It is not possible for us to study properly,” they said.
The state government has decided to keep all the High and High Secondary Institutions in the Valley open, thus making it mandatory for children to attend the schools in sub-zero temperatures. The decision, according to officials, has been taken in view of the recent five month long unrest in the Valley in which students could not attend classes due to curfews and strikes.
However the initiative, first of its kind in Kashmir, has drawn flak in the wake of scanty infrastructure in schools, with most of the institutions without windowpanes and toilets, as also the “lopsided planning” behind the move.
The students shouted slogans against the Department of School Education Kashmir. “The Government is risking the lives of students by making it mandatory for them to be a part of winter schooling. But they are ignoring the basic fact that the classrooms in most of the private schools are without heating arrangements, not to talk of government-run institutions, which are in a shambles,” said the students, insisting not to be identified. “God knows why the government is so adamant on going ahead with the decision. The students suffered academic loss in 2008 and 2009 also, but that time winter vacations were not cancelled. Why now?”
Interestingly, the students recalled an official handout of August 2008 wherein the Minister for Education, Peerzada Muhammad Syed, has been quoted as saying that “90 percent schools in Kashmir are functioning normally.”
“If 90 percent schools were functioning properly amid unrest in August, why is the government then beating the drum of compensating the academic loss? Which loss is the government talking about when it repeatedly kept saying that schools in rural areas were functioning normally amid the summer unrest?” said the aggrieved students. “The winter schooling has given a chance to the private schools to call the shots and mint money from our parents.”
Worse, the student alleged that the authorities have asked them to pay Rs 1000 to Rs 15000 extra for “winter schooling arrangements.” “Such decisions are just taxing the parents, who had to earlier pay full tuition and bus fee of the months during which the Valley reeled under unrest. Instead of agreeing to the decision, the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah must order an inquiry into the entire issue and see if there is more to the issue than meets the eye,” said a parent, who accompanied his son to Press Enclave. “Enforcing things has no role. The school authorities have threatened to put our children off the rolls if they don’t attend the schools. What kind of a policy is this?”
Pertinently the winter schooling is scheduled to begin from December 15.
While the health experts have already sounded caution that the initiative might prove “hazardous” for children, parents believe that the DSEK shall be solely responsible in case of any eventuality.
“Our children are dear to us than anything else. We would prefer to see them off the rolls than die due to shivering chill. The government should not be so adamant on something which can easily be avoided in the larger interest of the student community,” said Altaf Majeed, a parent.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Dec 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Dec 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Dec 2010 00:00:00 IST
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