August 28, 2016 4:22:45 am
ANNUAL exams are around 45 days away, and students in the Valley’s 13,000 schools have now not had classes for two months.
With time ticking away, schools are trying to find ways out. Some schools in Srinagar have prepared CDs and recorded videos of teachers discussing the lessons, and shared them with students. Other schools have approached the ones which have been successful in their efforts.
It is not easy, admits an officer who is part of the administration of one such school. Afraid of drawing the ire of protesters, teachers can come in only while it is still dark, and have been staying on campus to finish the recordings. “We have reached 60 per cent of our students in this manner,” says the officer.
However, the number of schools which have taken such measures are only private and remain a handful. Other students are banking on classes now being run in neighbourhood community centres, private homes or mosques, or on individual tuitions. Volunteers, mostly youths and schoolteachers, are holding these classes.
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Hilal Ahmad is a student of Gousia High School in Khanyar, a neighbourhood in Old Srinagar City, the separatist stronghold that has been under curfew for 50 days.
Earlier this month, the neighbourhood started classes at the local community centre for the schoolgoing children.
Saqib Manzoor, who is to appear for his Class XII exams this year, has no such community school in his neighbourhood of Rajbagh. Since the protests began on July 8, he has managed to go to the private tuition centre he attended, at Parraypora, 4 km away, only once. So the student of Iqbal Memorial Institute at Bemina in Srinagar studies on his own. “I have completed 60 per cent of my syllabus. It is difficult.”
Before this, the schools were shut for this long here in 2008, when they were closed for nearly 45 days, and in 2010, when the break stretched to almost three months.
It was in 2010 that established private schools in the Valley first started putting study material on their websites for students to access. G Q Jeelani, the Principal of R P School in Srinagar, says they have done this again, “and many students are accessing it”. However, since all students can’t access the study material due to the mobile Internet blockade, the school has also kept ready printed material.
“We have set up a computer system at the home of one of our employees, who lives close to the school. If a student is not able to access the Internet, he gets the study material from there,” Jeelani says.
The CBSE announced earlier this month that it is making arrangements to hold special classes for Class XII students of five affiliated schools in Srinagar.
None of these benefits may be available to government school students, though. The government acknowledges this.
“Let me be honest, there is absolutely no intervention from our side,” says Director, Education, Shah Faesal.
“Some private schools have organised online study material, but we know our students don’t have access to Internet in villages these days.”
Last week, the additional paramilitary forces rushed to the Valley moved into schools across Kashmir, pushing back hopes of classes starting soon.
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