Kashmir: The Paradise of Shattered Scholastic Dreams

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Kashmir has got caught in the biggest logjam ever and swivelled from being the paradise on earth to an epitome of lost paradise. A major chunk of the trounce resulting from the incessant turmoil befell students who continue to endure ordeal at the hands of abductors that take turns in personating as shutdown-callers on some days and curfew-imposers on the others!

The education sector in valley has been held hostage and the education system has paradoxically failed students immensely by poignantlybending its knees. Countless school days have been painfully lost and so have the numerous opportunities to gain knowledge. The crisis appears interminable and students at each rung of the ladder continue to bear the brunt.

In lieu of books, the innocent eyes now only read about bloodshed, beating, pellets and pelting. Students breathe fear and their future now they deem unclear. The recovery of economic and tangible losses are still plausible but how will anyone turn back the hands of time for irreproachable students?

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“The loss to the education sector is unquantifiable in this unprecedented strike. Education has taken a back seat amid all the violence. It is impossible to focus on studies as the present situation has marred all the educational temperament.” said Qaiser Hassan Itoo, M.Com student of University of Kashmir. For many like Mr. Itoo, getting back to their cherished varsities now only seems like a distant dream.

The heartbreak of teachers for their students is equally palpable. Zakir Hassan, high school teacher at a private school in South Kashmir unfolded tales of brilliant students getting utterly traumatised by the current scenario. He mentioned how distinction holders of 10th class are foreswearing their 12th class examinations this year owing to lack of preparation. “With only 40 percent of syllabus covered, how can students appear in exams pertaining to 100 percent syllabus? Even if the syllabus is reduced for now, how will our students compete with students from other two regions of the state or of country in future” asserted Mr Hassan.

Even the school going children realize the repercussions that the present mayhem is capable of having on their otherwise bright but now turned blurry future. Wasik, a 12th class student, dreamt of getting admission in country’s premier institute of interior designing but has left all hopes owing to the present pandemonium. He feels it worthless to appear in exams with majority of syllabus uncovered as it will translate into low percentage which in turn will leave him with no good choice of institute. His dream he says now is a bygone!

Pics by Umar Qadir
Pics by Umar Qadir

Even the civil service aspirants have not been left untouched by the cataclysm as they are witnessing innumerable hindrances in the pursuit of their grail. “I do not have internet access in the crucial hours of preparation and the censorship on the print media has worsened the problems. I have no access to the important study material. Moreover, in the wake of demurral, all study centres of coaching institutes are shifting out of here.” remarked Mehraj Udin Bhat, a Civil service aspirant hailing from Kashmir.

The angst experienced by parents of wards is no different. They are awfully concerned as children are losing the golden time of the yearly education calendar. “Parents cannot do what a teacher can do. The future of our children is heading towards total darkness and we are completely helpless” commented Bilal Ahmed, an aggrieved parent. Moreover, grave concerns prevail amongst parent community regarding the safety of their wards if they appear in the forthcoming examinations, after all the choice is between education and existence!

As the valley continues to seethe, some youngsters have taken up the initiative to convert their homes into makeshift tuition centres in order to keep the spirit of education alive amongst school-going children. Shagufta Parrey is one of them. Even if she is toiling to keep students in touch with their studies, she opines that a couple of hours at tuition can never match the ambience of a school. Sans uniform, sans assemblies or any formal code of conduct, she believes that students are going astray from the element of discipline. “School system is completely irreplaceable. Community centres are just temporary fixes which lack infrastructure and specialized teachers, such classes cannot compensate even 5 percent of academic loss suffered by students” said Ms. Parrey. Indeed, the time spent at such community classes is a mere brown study for the students when their minds are completely consumed by the ever-existing conflict around.

The education sector is being unrelentingly victimized and so are our future generations. It is a well established fact that civilizations prosper only when education is duly prioritized. Thus, the educational institutions must mandatorily be kept afar from conflict of any sort at all times. This calls for superlative political maturity and an equally strong sense of social commitment, in the absence of which our beloved paradise will turn into a boulevard of zillions of shattered scholastic dreams!

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