This refers to a series of articles regarding the change of session from Oct-Nov to Mar-April for schools in Kashmir. The one by Nasir Khuehami spoke against the move whereas the one by Sajad Bazaz was in favour of a session change. The debate on session change is not new and every now and then the issue of ‘session change’ disturbs the students.
March session was not successful even when it was implemented in Kashmir in 80’s. Incidentally, I was in class 10th when the session was moved from November to March. We wasted a good 6 months and were in one class for 18 months.
We waited for the results for two more months and ended up going to another class after 20 months. Leaving aside how difficult it was for students from areas with difficult terrains to appear for the exams, we the students from Srinagar were frustrated to spend so much time in one class. Ultimately the session was shifted back to (Oct-Nov) the same year.
The schools of Srinagar and other major towns might have become better but the infrastructure issues are still there in the far-flung areas where winters are very harsh.
In Kashmir, winter extends to March, and the ‘winter break’ is extended almost every year. Hostile weather conditions and poor infrastructure forces the schools shut beyond winter vacations. Infrastructure is not built overnight, it takes time, it takes effort and money.
To upgrade the infrastructure of valley schools is a mammoth task and despite the efforts of the Education department, the far-flung areas are still wanting in infrastructure. If March and April will be spent holding exams, May in results, then what is left of the Academic calendar?
In 2018 once there was a discussion again on the session change experts. Professor Madhosh argued in favour of Oct-Nov session saying it suited the valley climate and topography.
School education is a challenge in Kashmir and it is a matter of pride that on the educational parameters Kashmir is doing well - the session that has been in operation for decades has not largely harmed the educational aspirations of our students otherwise the parameters would have been different.
Deciding on the change of session at this point, one needs to understand that the syllabus for the current year is almost over and students are hardly a month or two away from their exams. Holding their exams in March next year will unnecessarily prolong their stay in one class by 6-8 months without any additional benefits.
Changing the session at this point of time will be more harmful than helpful. A child for instance who has prepared for his class 10th exam to be held in October this year - will it be fair to let him wait till March 2023?
It will, as is said ‘freeze their mental development as they will have nothing new to learn for the added six months that we give them.
COVID-19 pandemic may have opened up technology as a means to impart education but technology can be ‘add on’ not a replacement to conventional schools. The National Educational Policy and its crux may be implemented but let for now there be no disturbance in the academic session. If changing the session is mandatory then let all the infrastructural lacunae be first addressed before the session is changed.
Parents, students and teachers in Kashmir believe that for competitive tests Oct-Nov is the best session as the students who are to appear for competitive exams like NEET and JEE get adequate time to prepare, also children of other classes get into a new class with a lot of enthusiasm, and study new books during their winter vacations for the new classes.
If we think a change in the session is essential then let us come up with a two-session calendar Oct-Nov i.e., fall and Mar-April i.e/, spring as is in Western Universities. Whoever chooses March has the option and whoever chooses (Oct-Nov) should have the option.
As a parent of school going children who will be affected by the move, I cannot help but request for a rethink on the proposed move to alter the academic session.
Dr Rumana Makhdoomi, MD (Path), Fellowship Neuro-oncopathology [NIMHANS], Professor, Dept of Pathology SKIMS, SRINAGAR
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.