Liberation from darkness?

Delhi and Srinagar should learn to ensure the basic necessities of classrooms and examination Centres first

Binoo Joshi
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 12 2018 11:03PM | Updated Date: Nov 12 2018 11:03PM
Liberation from darkness?Representational Pic

It is a tough call to make the children of today to see merit in books and compete in the outdated system of annual examinations. It becomes tougher when the conflict is raging across their places, and their examination halls have no electricity to enable them what to read from the question papers and write on the answer sheets. Are we creating a new blind world in Kashmir? Blindness of not succeeding despite being promised light of knowledge and educate to liberate from the darkness of illiteracy and obscurantism. That is metaphorical. And, when there are no lights in the examination centre – the physical darkness – it may give them the idea of the liberation from the darkness cast on them by the system. The schools have no electricity. Some of them have no roof, no windows, leave aside desks. But nevertheless these are symbols of hope, discipline and dreams. The question arises whether we are playing with the very make up of their lives in which the hope gets transformed into hopelessness, discipline goes in for a toss and dreams lose to nightmares. Our children are talented. They know what they can do with their mental skills. They can be future scientists and IT engineers, for the doctors and engineers are considered now an obsolete definition of excelling in academics. They can transform the world. But is the system helping them to transform. The darkness around them is further confounded by the anger that gets triggered in the lightless classrooms and examination centres. To provide them with well-lit examination centres is the bare minimum that the system can do. The system, however, seems to be indifferent, rather callous about it. This is the legacy of decades. It cannot be undone in a matter of the past few weeks or months.. That is a biting reality of Kashmir. The point here is simple. 

The frustration born out of the cold and dark examination centres, where students are judged by what they write on the answer sheets in three hours’ time judges becomes a deciding factor for their success or failure for what they have learned in one year ‘s long period would be far deeper than anything else. This frustration can lead to other frustrations with social and political system in an atmosphere of complete hopelessness. Imagine what a student who studied hard throughout the year overcoming all the odds – frequent shutdowns, gun battles in the neighbhourhood, huge funeral processions and ever-expanding tragic sight of graveyards- finding his examination centre enveloped in darkness in sub zero temperatures, would think about his future. The darkness is going to haunt him for the rest of his life and that haunt may turn into something worse and for that we may say that he/she has gone astray. 

In short, we are encouraging the school dropouts. That is a deadly thing happening to them arising out of the gloomy atmosphere contributed largely by the darkness interrupting their hopes. How long can they live with such a situation? This question begets other questions too. If they are believed to be the victims of the frequent shutdown calls given by separatists or the closure of their open-air schools, is the official system not equally guilty of denying them the opportunities due to them. More worrying frustration visits them when they are told that the government is doing everything for them. What? Did they hear it right that the government is giving them all facilities to uplift their abilities to learn and excel. When it doesn’t happen, it creates a big societal problem.

Governor Satya Pal Malik has repeatedly stated in a series of interviews to different media outlets that the age group between 13 and 20 –constituting more than 40 percent of the demographic composition in Kashmir – was without opportunities after the school timings. He is 100 per cent right. No one should be questioning his intentions to do good things for the children and youth. He is new to Jammu and Kashmir. It will take him time to live up to his words. But, the least he could have done for this age group was to ensure proper lighting of their examination centres. That might be considered a very small thing, given the sudden snowfall in the month of November. Nature has its own ways and those are unstoppable. Human spirit is tested in these trying times. A way should have been found to tide over the crisis that hit hard the school going generation of the year 2018. The examinations under candle light in itself is a travesty of the claims of doing things for our new generation. This was avoidable. The advisor in charge education Khurshid Ganai did good by visiting the examination centres, studying their problems and sought solution. His efforts were laudable. But the image of candles at desks with students studying to read and write has got etched on the minds of the people, and the students have carried that the blown out candles to their homes – a tragic symbol of what their lives have been reduced to. 

Delhi and Srinagar should learn to ensure the basic necessities of classrooms and examination centres first, before they expect their messages of hope to generate a real hope among the students. They should know that education is the only ticket to a better life.




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