Relocate the Biscoe and Mallinson School
This is in response to the memorandum / write up "Don't Dislodge the Heritage", published in Greater Kashmir on 3rd of July, 2017.
The present Government of Jammu and Kashmir has been very keen to develop the Srinagar city into a smart city and attract tourists to visit and enjoy the fabulous and beautiful environs of the city which is abundant in lakes, gardens of natural beauty, heritage and historical buildings and more importantly shrines of great saints who have enlightened the society of Kashmir with moral, spiritual and religious education. In order to realize its endeavour, the Government has instructed the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and the Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) to come up with a proposed plan for further development of Srinagar city (2015-2035). In order to beautify and decongest the city, the government has already shifted many offices including the District Court to city outskirts. Now the Government of Jammu and Kashmir is contemplating to explore possibilities for relocating one of the oldest schools of Srinagar, Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson Higher Secondary School from Lal Chowk to city outskirts. It is believed that the location of Tyndale Biscoe Higher Secondary School is an obstacle in decongesting the city because the institution has a huge fleet of school buses and other vehicles which ferry students from various areas to the schools and contributes to traffic jam around Lal Chowk. The government intends to provide some land to the school in the outskirts of Srinagar city so that the location of the school is converted into a tourist hub and the traffic congestion is averted.
The one hundred and thirty six year-old Tyndale Biscoe School and its girl's wing, Mallinson School, are spread over an area of 85 Kanals of land in Lal Chowk. The School was established in 1880 on the government land provided to them on lease by the then administration under some conditions and the school authorities had signed an affidavit to fulfil the conditions set by the administration. Being under the category of aided schools and established on government land provided to them on lease, the school authorities as per the affidavit signed before the administration were supposed to give 10 percent free admissions o the poor students. And later the government issued an order in light of Supreme Court Judgment that aided private schools should keep 25 percent reservations for students belonging to weaker section of the society. Though the Biscoe and Mallinson Schools have promoted the cause of education in the valley yet these have failed to fulfil the mission of serving the weaker sections and poor community of the people. The inputs reveal that no reservation is given to students belonging to weaker sections and no free admissions are given as per the agreement. And surprisingly, admissions are given while charging huge fees which are beyond the capacity of poor classes of the society. The Biscoe and Mallinson schools and other private schools are called missionary schools which were supposed to develop egalitarian society and remain inclusive in character while taking due care of the students belonging to poor, below poverty line, economically backward, remote areas at the time of granting admissions but every one can see how much they have fulfilled the job. So the School cannot claim that it is serving the divergent sections of the society as claimed in the write up "Don't Dislodge the Heritage" published in Greater Kashmir on 3rd of July, 2017.
In the write up/memorandum it has been highlighted by the Principal and Director of the school that developing the Lal Chowk area adjacent to the Tyndale-Biscoe and Mallinson Girls Schools in Sheikh Bagh as a hub for tourism under the banner of Public-Private-Participation (PPP) program of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir will disturb the outstanding heritage of more than 150 years of Tyndale-Biscoe and Mallinson Schools at Sheikh Bagh. But a simple visit reveals the fact that maximum number of those historical and heritage buildings have been converted into concrete and modernized buildings inside the campus of the school to accommodate more and more students; so the school has lost the glory of being a heritage school. It is also to mention that the calm and serene atmosphere of these institutions has been long back disturbed by the authorities of the school by establishing more and more structures and one will hardly find trees including exotic ones like old and young Chinars, mulberry, walnut, Kashmiri poplars, pine, herbal plants and evergreens. The playing fields with beautiful lawns and gardens surrounded by green bushes on this campus are no where existing and the fact is that only one or two lawns and a playing ground are existing at present. Thus the environmental concerns have not remained a consideration as claimed in the detailed memorandum. The effort of the management of the school to promote activities like cross country run, camps, trekking and mountaineering, swimming, regattas, boating, skiing and co-curricular activities like debates, quiz competitions, dramatics, music, seminars, workshop opportunities to each and every student is the duty of the school and for all co-curricular or extra–curricular activities the students are charged accordingly. With no control over fee structure, some private schools in the State have an annual turnover of crores of Rupees. Hence the claim that the expenses are borne on the above activities by the school management are not palatable and factual.
The proposal of the Government to shift the school is appreciable and in the interest of the school and the student community because the educational institutions need to be far away from the chaos and commotion of the commercial places, and should enjoy serene environment so that learning is done and imparted in a better way. The relocation of the school in the outskirts of the city shall pave way for transforming the present site into a tourist spot by developing beautiful lawns and parks and a few necessary structures besides a parking space to boost up tourism in the city.