The Meddlesome March

New academic calendar rakes up new questions
Students appearing in board exams. [Representational Image]
Students appearing in board exams. [Representational Image] File Photo: Mubashir Khan/GK

Acknowledgement: I am no expert; know nothing. I do not understand the language of politics and parenting. I do not know to differentiate between plots and policies.

I barely absorb all that is derived from commissions and consultations. I neither reasonably expect nor unreasonably react. But I am not numb to the outward happenings. With illogic and gibberish around, discomfort seizes me and I react.

Coming to the point, the order of operationalisation of the Uniform Academic Calendar for both UT divisions from the current session in sync with the national academic calendar set my thought waves in motion.

The abruptly announced session shift by the concerned authorities flooded my mind with countable questions. Pros and cons; I leave that to the intelligentsia. Smart or over-smart government is not my concern here. Implementable or implausible scheme, is. Let the reaction begin.

Snow and Suspensions

“Winter is accompanied by difficulties.’’- Master Aeomon warns Tyrion in the famous Game of Thrones. A fantasy fiction character acknowledges the harshness of snow season.

Turning to reality, an existing piece of land that faces bone-chill from November to February is treating winter hostility as “non-existent’’. The geo-spatial diversity, the difficult topography and the atypical climate of Kashmir and parts of Jammu make it distinct from the rest of the country.

To my understanding, all the change that has been brought is a subject to the condition that winter won’t be hostile. Who can claim to be that prophetic? In my conversation with one of the Ex-Directors of Education JK, I , surprisingly got to know that the government has not ignored the harsh weather conditions altogether.

It has tried to factor in the adversity of the climatic conditions. Let me explain how. The border belts of JK remain landlocked for 5 -6 months due to heavy snowfall. Machil, Keran, Gurez, Karnah, Charunda , Basohli, Mahore, Loran to name a few.

In case of worst weather cases, such areas will be identified, listed out and treated accordingly– by their annual exam deferment. An added burden on the already overburdened education sector. Adding up logistics will be a daunting task requiring strenuous effort.

And then, a lurking question - what really would it mean vis-à-vis actual conduct of exams in the summer and winter zones of JK? One single date-sheet? Wouldn’t that turn out to be a disaster in the event of a worst turn in weather in winter zones, disabling, disrupting and deferring exams there.

Once the question papers are out in summer zone, the BOSE would have to do it all over again, de novo, with likely net loss of a month or more, besides an obvious economic cost.

Psychological Stagnation

The government leaves, out of its ambit, classes upto 9th. So, it’s status quo there until more on that is heard from them. One immediate fall-out is that it prolongs the stay of such winter-zone students as are currently in 10th, 11th and 12th upto 15 long months. Recalling my school time, our batch stayed in Class 10th for 17 months as we took our board exams in April (the flood hit batch).

After syllabus completion within months, the succeeding 10/11 months were dedicated to useless countless revisions. I personally earned anxiety; shuttling between boards and 11th. Though it was a disaster decree, but lingering in the same class with the same books did no good; sheer wastage of time and mind.

The “advanced technology’’ has taken a leap forward now but do I need to remind – Power cuts and load shedding are endemic to this place. Sheen pyeov, Paawar Gov and Charge Makleov holds the same seriousness.

Electricity crisis are happily married to snow here. How will ‘digital learning’ come to rescue here? Who will deliberate upon those rural and border area students who do not see a lit lamp for months together.

Who can have the audacity to talk about digitising them when even in 2022 they only know T for Taerr (cold). What good will internet and gadget learning do to them? Won’t brains go redundant and unproductive when they will remain stagnated for months?

“Remedial teaching’’ in winters to get over academic deficit is not a panacea. Aren’t authorities robbing children of a vacation-much-needed in a harsh winter.

What use of holidays that have a Damocles hang over them? Children, squeezed and stressed, preparing for their papers in March and yet vacationing!

I also recall coming across a whatsApp forward. A wrong notion is somehow afloat, by default, not by design that a ‘uniform academic calendar’ will get one closer to NEP 2020.

Taking a basic fact check, the policy document nowhere speaks of a ‘UAC’. Instead, in unequivocal terms, it seeks to factor in diversity, inclusion, consultation and contextualization.

Stakeholders or Mute Bystanders

Education is not a one sided affair. It is not a one party concern. The perfume of teaching-learning is made with the combined fragrances of dialogues and discussions.

Better outcomes require better interventions. Otherwise even good plans get immaterialised. The session shift has been done for the ‘’benefit’’ of JK students; in consultation with whom? This is a God-Complex of government entering the education arena.

A policy decision of huge public importance has been announced without being preceded by a consultation; not even among the officials. Instead a small BOSE-led committee was tasked to suggest how best to ‘operationalise’ the decision.

It is a post decisional deliberation, tragically. A decision announced and later referred to a 3 member committee. The major stakeholders’ consultations are tragically and destructively missing.

Hoping that good sense prevails. This so-called “uniform calendar’’ doesn’t travel down to the foundational segments. A policy that seriously needs to be re-introspected, reconsidered and redesigned.

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.

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