March Session, NO!

How stupid we felt to be in the same class for 20-months!

Dr.Rumana Makhdoomi
Srinagar, Publish Date: Apr 22 2018 11:07PM | Updated Date: Apr 22 2018 11:07PM
March Session, NO!File Photo

It happened to me as a student of class 10th in 80s. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir decided to shift the academic session from October-November to March-April and I had to spend 20-months in 10th class. Our exams ended in April, we waited for a month for results and we were promoted to the next class in June. What a painful time it was, ask me! How stupid we felt to be in the same class for 20-months! What a wastage of our time and our working days. As, we marched towards a higher class; the government realized the futility of this move and shifted the session back to October-November. These two years of changing sessions gave us the pain and trouble, which is indescribable.

Now imagine this pain and chaos spreading across the generations. The government is seriously considering shifting the academic session to March –April from the current year. This time it is my child who will stay for a good twenty months in class 10th wasting time and I will suffer again as a parent seeing the suffering of my child. How unfortunate- the academic session for Kashmir has not been fixed over the last 30-years! My child and me are confronted with the same issue. Before the government goes ahead with its decision, I as a parent and a sufferer of this torment in the past have a reason to know why March session failed in the past whenever implemented in Kashmir, and what is the guarantee that it will not fail again and lead to a double torture?

One reason that is being put forward for change of session by the authorities is that the session in Kashmir needs to be brought in alignment with rest of the country. I am sure all agree that Kashmir has a distinct climate, topography and is a conflict zone where you cannot expect everything to be in agreement with other states. Kashmir has its own issues and problems, which are in a way unique. Isn’t it a land locked and energy deficient state where winter is the toughest time of the year? So, why shouldn’t it have an academic session, which suits it the most? Isn’t this what educationists who recommended October-November session for Kashmir must have thought before their recommendation? Else, has anything about Kashmir changed-its climate or its topography? If not, why change the session?

In Kashmir the winter always extends to March. The winter break is invariably extended every year. Hostile weather and poor infrastructure forces government to shut schools far beyond winter vacations. So, if schools find it hard to do the routine work during March, how can   they conduct exams in March? Lately, by some funny logic it is being argued that March session will have more working days for students. If March and April are spent on exams, May for results and admissions-are you not by simple mathematics wasting three months of a fresh year for our students, in addition to three months winter vacations? If 220 working school days is the optimum required per year where from will you generate them? With extra time getting wasted how can we achieve this target?

School education is a challenge in a conflict zone, adding new stress to students will add to their depression. The school education has lot more issues than changing the session. Ensuring schools remain open for maximum number of days, ensuring proper student teacher ratio, ensuring students are taught what they deserve to be taught, ensuring schools have a good and weather friendly infrastructure, ensuring toilets and drinking water in schools, ensuring updated skill and knowledge for teachers-there is a lot that needs to be done- definitely, changing the sessions is not what is needed on a priority basis.

We need to understand if we change the session to March -we are freezing the mental development of kids of all ages by unusually prolonging their session. In the present fast changing world, is it advisable to freeze students in their classes for more than the required time? You might argue they will eventually lose this time after 12th when they have to go for professional courses. But, that I believe is a fruitful time when students can prepare for competitive tests in the extra time that they get .Why freeze them now? Why should my child stay unnecessarily in class 10th for 20-months when I know it will fetch her nothing? What will my child learn in that time? Who will pay for those extra -but futile months? This issue will create unnecessary psychosocial problems for our kids.

Our children are not punching bags nor are they experimental tools-changing administrators should not change sessions, should not change strategies. Education should be a goal not a tool of administration.

Some argue that while students from other states can sit in National level tests thrice, students from Kashmir get two chances only. It is an administrative issue, which should be discussed with the concerned authorities so that students of Kashmir too can avail three chances. Changing session for this reason is not wise.

There is a lot of discussion going on that March session will curb the coaching menace-how will it curb when you are offering no alternative? Private schools seem to be very keen to have March session but there are larger issues than session change facing these schools as well- streamlining their fee structure, respecting the rights of teachers working in those schools and treating them humanely-addressing these issues should be a priority for them than stressing on session change.

If we think we need to really change the sessions-Let us do it differently. We can have sessions as per the wishes of students-those who want them for March, those who want them in November like elsewhere in the world, (i.e) fall session and spring session etc. instead of forcing our authority on them.

April is a pleasant time for kids when they look fresh and rejuvenated… let them frisk about in sun and bloom with tulips…don’t tax them with your “session change theory”.


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