In a first move of its kind, J&K's School Education department has notified several government degree colleges in Srinagar as exam centers for Class 10th and 12th examinations scheduled from mid-November to "avoid any trouble during the process." The decision, according to sources, has also been taken after the Private Schools' Association bluntly opposed the government's decision to hold these exams from mid-November in view of the prevailing situation in Kashmir and also the concerns raised by the students.
Earlier, the government used to notify both private as well government-run educational institutions as exam centers for Secondary and Higher Secondary students. However, this year, the J&K Board of School Education (BOSE), following directions from the government, has preferred degree colleges instead of private schools, for the purpose.
"The Government had apprehensions whether private schools will cooperate for holding exams in November, so the Education Minister decided to utilize colleges as exam centers for Class 10th and 12th students," a senior BOSE official said.
He said there are also "apprehensions of law and order situation at some places which perhaps promoted the government to shift exam centers from schools to colleges situated in Civil Lines areas."
"Some schools which were utilized as exam centers in the past are located in 'sensitive areas', so we shifted the exam centers from there," the BOSE official said, insisting not to be named.
In Srinagar, the BOSE has notified Government Degree College Bemina as exam center for both Secondary and Higher Secondary examinations. GDC Bemina, as per a Center Notice issued by the BOSE, will have three examination centers. Similarly Government Degree College for Women at Nawakadal will also serve as exam center for Class 10 and 12 students. The college will have two centers. Also, Government Degree College for Women, M A Road, will have three centers for the students while Islamia College of Science and Commerce will have four.
According to J&K BOSE notification, Gandhi Memorial and SP colleges here will set up two exam centers each while three exam centers will be set up in Amar Singh College here.
Also two exam centers will be set up in government building of District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), Srinagar.
Official sources said these colleges are being used to shift students "residing in sensitive areas so that they will appear in exams."
"Government wants to conduct the exams somehow. They have made it a point to finish them as per the scheduled dates," they said.
Pertinently, the J&K government has come in for severe criticism for its decision to hold exams in November, with students continuously hitting the streets in protest to demand deferment of the tests till March next.
Interestingly, the J&K government has pushed for postponement of by-polls for Anantnag parliamentary segment in Kashmir and conveyed to the Election Commission of India that situation was "not conducive" for holding the exercise at this stage. But ironically, it is adamant to conduct Secondary and Higher Secondary exams amid ongoing uprising in Kashmir.
Opposition parties, academics and teachers have jointly castigated the government for making exams a "point of prestige" and asked it to defer them for the benefit of students.
President of Private Schools' Association G N Var castigated the government for "thrusting exams" on students, saying "we won't support the government for holding exam amid 'chaotic situation' in Kashmir."
"What is wrong if the government will defer exams till March and start a process for releasing the arrested students and quash all PSAs as well," Var said.
He said the Association has decided not to provide accommodation to government for holding the exams.
"We are receiving calls from Class 12 students who are facing daily threats as forces raid their houses to arrest them. The government is forcing the same students to appear in exams," Var said.
He said government used colleges instead of private schools as exam centers as it
"wants to portray normalcy in Kashmir before Government of India."
"They are not concerned about career of students but want to show pseudo-normalcy here," he said.