For past some time there has been an overflow of encouraging response for the new National Education Policy. It is being hailed as transformative, and revolutionary in many respects. In Kashmir we have seen academics praise the policy, and also highlight its various segments that deal with different layers of education. One such part of education, and of the new education policy, is the schooling system. It is expected that the new policy would make some long pending changes in the schooling system; thought at the same there have been opinions to the contrary on certain ingredients of the policy. But regardless of all this, if we have a look at the schooling system in Kashmir, there is much to be done. In the recent years we saw some activism in the concerned department, and the ministry, about bringing in some structural and functional changes. Even afterwards we saw the department trying to bring in changes in one form or the other. The latest being a drive to enhance enrollment in the government run schools. How far that succeeds, one can’t predict. But there are certain things which if not taken care of, no substantial change can happen.
It defeats common sense to see the present fate of government run schools despite having huge infrastructure, qualified and trained teachers, and all other facilities available. Why our government schools fail to become a choice for those who take education of their kids seriously? This question should be taken up by the administration very seriously. There should be internal discussions on this in which teachers are involved to get inputs from the ground zero. The problem with our bureaucratic mindset is that they seldom listen. The first change required within this department is at this level of interaction. The high level officials managing this department should respectfully listen to teachers and make them leaders in the changes that must happen. Besides making these discussions teacher-centric, the officials in the department should also seek opinion from the civil society. There are people amongst us who know society well and can be fruitfully engaged in bringing changes in the department. If the process of bringing changes starts by adopting bottom-up approach, it can have a positive impact. Dealing with things in a strict top-down approach discourages the actual players on ground.