Reopening of schools
The government’s move to reopen schools from 1st November will be a big challenge especially with the winter scheduled to set in Kashmir Valley. The over 100-day unrest in Valley has made the reopening of schools difficult as both parents and students are apprehensive of the safety and weather. If the schools fail to reopen any time sooner, then it is certain that the students will lose full seven to eight months of their regular class work. Terrorism has been a bane in Jammu and Kashmir. More than 5,000 schools were destroyed in arson attacks. Cheating became almost the norm. The late Mufti Sayeed tried hard to expand the reach of education when he was Chief Minister from 2002 to 2005. His government built several new universities, and colleges in more or less every district. Transforming such a ‘disease rotten’ education system is a tough nut to crack, anywhere. In troubled Jammu and Kashmir, it can be a little more difficult. What is needed is revamping of education system from primary level and stopping the transfer industry so that teachers get a feeling of belonging to the society and be made accountable irrespective of religious and political affiliations. Blinkered mindsets seem to have become more common than egalitarian values and mutual respect among fellow citizens, and across religions and genders. An extended, comprehensive programme is required with an investment in peaceful coexistence and social harmony. Education should also address the aspirations of various groups by promoting their language, culture and heritage to provide a compact package for growth of children mentally and physically. The schools in the Valley are lying shut since July following the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani. The winter vacation in the Valley starts in the second week of December and lasts for nearly two and a half months depending on the weather. The government had on 20th July taken a sudden decision to reopen the schools in Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam and Ganderbal Districts. The response, however, was negative from both teachers and students due to continuous shutdowns and restrictions.