Govt diktat punctured?
'DISMAL ATTENDANCE IN SRINAGAR, THIN ELSEWHERE'
FAHEEM ASLAM/MUDDASIR ALI
Srinagar, Sept 27: The Jammu and Kashmir government’s much-hyped move to reopen schools in Kashmir proved to be a flop show on Monday, with educational institutions across the Valley recording ‘thin to very thin’ attendance of students.
While the majority of children studying in private and government-run educational institutions in Srinagar stayed away from schools, the institutes in villages and major towns recorded very thin attendance. A team of Greater Kashmir reporters visited a number of schools in Srinagar to observe the attendance of students and teachers.
A prominent school at Sonawar, which was surrounded by a huge deployment of police and paramilitary CRPF, had received just over 50 students out of the total roll of over 1500. “The school administration had deputed a few buses to ferry the students. But only a few students turned up. And those from class 11th and 12th were asked to go back home because the administration feared that they might hold pro-freedom protests,” said a policeman guarding the school. “The young kids, not more than 50 in number, were asked to stay in the school to give an impression that it was functioning normally,” he said.
Not more than 100 students visited another prominent school in Raj Bagh. “Out of 4000 students, only 200 had turned up,” said a school official, pleading anonymity. “The school authorities had decided not to open the school, but they did it under pressure from the state government.”
A teacher from the school alleged that she was “harassed” by troopers near her residence at Athwajan. “They didn’t allow me to move on and asked me some absurd questions,” she alleged.
Almost all private schools in Raj Bagh were closed. However, officials of the couple of schools which remained open said they feared de-recognition of the schools if they remained closed. With the result, they opened the schools for sometime, but closed them immediately.
Another prominent school in Lal Chowk recorded presence of 38 students in Middle Department (6th, 7th and 8th), 40 in classes 9th and 10th, 26 in 11th and 12th classes and 38 out of 500 in Lower Primary Department and 18 students in KG classes. “About 150 students out of 2500 were present in the school,” said a school official.
At Girls Higher Secondary Amira Kadal here officials said the total strength of the students is over 2500. “But less than 30 students of different classes had turned up. They too were discharged early,” said a group of teachers outside the institute. There was eerie silence inside the Higher Secondary. While the classrooms were empty, some of them were even locked.
“As there were strict directions, all the staff (teaching and non-teaching) had turned up. Most of them had come in their private vehicles or were dropped by family members. There was no transport arrangement by the authorities,” said a staffer.
At Kothi Bagh Girls Higher Secondary School, the scene was no different. An official from non-teaching staff told Greater Kashmir that not more than two dozen students had turned up against the strength of over 3000. “Most of the students who had come were from the nearby localities,” the official said. However he said the entire staff had turned up.
Sources said a scuffle between some teachers and Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Meraj Ahmad Kakroo, took place at Kothibagh Higher Secondary School over the issue of reopening of schools.
Since government had announced start of examination for B.Ed from Monday onwards, parents and relatives had in large numbers accompanied their wards to the institute, which was declared as examination center for B. Ed.
“My daughter is sitting in the examination. We couldn’t have taken the risk of allowing her to come here alone,” said Zubaida Akthar. She said her husband had also accompanied them.
In the nearby SP Higher Secondary school a group of teachers were leaving for home in the afternoon. Asked whether the students had turned up, one of them replied: “Not more than 15 students had come.”
Sources said top administration officials including Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Samoon; Commissioner Secretary, Education, Naseema Lankar; Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Meraj Ahmad Kakroo, visited many educational institutions in the city to check whether the staff had turned up for duty.
Paramilitary CRPF allegedly beat up a civilian in Rainwari who was accompanying his niece to school. Reports said Farooq Ahmad Ahangar sustained injuries early in the morning and was admitted to SK Institute of Medical Sciences.
STUDENTS OR SHEILDS?
The fewer students, who had turned up in a few private schools here, had to face immense hardship after the school authorities failed to provide them transport facility on their return from the institutions. The school authorities called the parents, asking to take back their children.
“Our children were kept as hostages in the schools,” said a group of aggrieved parents. “It is unfortunate that the state government is using students as a shield to fight the ongoing protests. We strongly denounce this.”
THIN ATTENDENCE IN DISTRICT SCHOOLS
In Bijbehara town in south Kashmir’s Islamabad district, a report said all private schools remained closed while government run institutions recorded very thin attendance of students. Similar was the situation in Tral town of Pulwama.
Reports from north Kashmir’s Sopur and Varmul towns said no private schools were open there. However teachers in many schools had turned up while student attendance in government-run institutions was dismal.
Officials in Chief Education Offices in Islamabd, Varmul, Kupwara and Pulwama said teachers had turned up in the schools, but hardly a few students were seen there. “In the past few days, when there was curfew in place, we recorded a good attendance of teachers and students. But today hardly a few students had turned up,” they said.
However, reports from far-flung villages said 50 to 60 percent attendance was recorded there.
BUSES STONED: POLICE
Police claimed some school buses and schools were attacked by “miscreants” at some places in Srinagar. “The miscreants pelted stones at schools buses,” said a police official, without disclosing the names of the schools.
Reports said the Valley colleges by and large remained closed, though the state government had asserted that they too would open from Monday. Reports said a few teachers were seen in colleges in north and south Kashmir, but hardly a teacher and student was seen in the Srinagar colleges.
HELPLINE A FAILURE?
Though police had asked teachers to dial its ‘100’ helpline if they faced any inconvenience in reaching the schools, a number of teachers complained that the helpline proved to be a damp squib. “I left for school in time, but troopers stopped me near Bemina. I dialled the police helpline. They asked me to talk to the CRPF officials, who refused to help,” said a teacher.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 27 Sep 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 27 Sep 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 28 Sep 2010 00:00:00 IST
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