Winter is for contemplation, not examination. It is wise to follow the prerogative of nature and our physiological rhythms. Why make students shiver in cold for nothing and why drag exam session to, and through the bone-chilling winter? The nomenclature of Kashmir is based on the empirical experience of the people about temperature and precipitation conditions during different periods of a year and this nomenclature is scientifically true and is appropriate, as we divide the year into six seasons, each of two months duration as:
|S.No||Name of Season||Name of Months||Temp oC|
|1||Sonth (Spring)||Mid March – Mid May||15-25|
|2||Grishm (Summer)||Mid May – Mid July||25-35|
|3||Wahrat (Rainy season)||Mid July – Mid Sep||35-25|
|4||Harud (Autumn)||Mid Sept – Mid Nov||25-15|
|5||Wandah (Winter)||Mid Nov – Mid Jan||15- 05|
|6||Sheshur (Severe cold)||Mid Jan – Mid March||05- 15|
Of the six, 4th one, the Harud (Autumn) is the best season to conduct Board and University Examinations in Kashmir, keeping many parameters in focus. One fails to understand why unnecessarily, and intentionally, these annual examinations are being dragged to harsh winter (the Wandah/the Sheshur) in Kashmir, putting around one million students and parents to trauma. Kashmir is quite pleasant with the temperature varying from 15 to 35 degree Celsius and October month could be the most appropriate (vividly seen in the table) for annual examinations with morning and evening shifts; and I believe, even three on-line shifts. We have now enough infrastructure both for online and off line examination in both regions of Jammu & Kashmir and lords at the helm of affairs are enough capable to set things right in both lower and higher education.
Logical and a reasonable decision of University Grants Commission (UGC), regarding freedom to the universities to decide on an academic schedule and conduct exams based on the Covid-19 situation in the areas where they are located, need to be cherished and admired. The same should apply to the regions like Kashmir, where the climatic conditions are altogether different and drastic. Compared with other plain parts of country, Kashmir valley enjoys a more moderate climate, but weather conditions are unpredictable mostly during winters. There are a number of key reasons why autumn examinations might be beneficial to pupils and why winter session is disastrous. Low winter temperatures can be uncomfortable and they can also be very dangerous for students which can distract, and agitate them. Being exposed to cold temperatures for extended period of time can lead to hypothermia and vasoconstriction, which can affect circulation and thereby increase the risk of a heart attack, besides other disorders including seasonal affective disorder (SAD). An examination hall full of students coughing and sniffing could prove even more distracting during the covid pandemics, besides other unmanageable issues! Recently, a well grown adult appearing in examination shouted for water which was frozen. The staff on duty was speechless.
We need to set up credible committees for making an Academic and Examination calendar for the year, including conducting online exams, wherever possible. More so, I propose to establish an Educational Council in J & K for both lower and higher education in one huge campus to accommodate all executive offices for well coordination, which could have an overall view on all education related issues in future. And may I put a word that March session in Kashmir is catastrophic and shall not be sustainable and should never be recommended, which was proposed once. For well over 50 years, the school calendar has remained constant, passed through different turbulent phases and now it needs to be set right on priority to avoid the innumerable troubles associated with winter examinations; and management should act with competence and caliber. Recently, I proposed that we should not say, “Goodbye to Paper-Pen Based Examinations” to avoid unnecessary inconvenience and shall continue to mention issues related to education sector, till haemorrhage stops.
Dr. Shah M A is Associate Professor, P.G Department of Physics, National Institute of Technology Srinagar (NIT) Srinagar.