Srinagar: As schools across Srinagar continue to mark very thin attendance, a number of private institutes here have come up with an ingenious way of helping students continue with their lessons. Teachers in many of these schools have distributed CDs containing video lessons to let students resume studies at home.
Attendance across the schools in Srinagar has been negligible ever since the abrogation of Article 370 and security clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir. Even as the government has lifted restrictions on the movement of vehicles in most parts of Srinagar, parents have been apprehensive about the security situation and barred children from attending schools.
“Since we cannot hold classes, we have prepared some video lessons on CDs and distributed these to the children. They are coming with their parents, taking the CDs and going back home. This will help them prepare lessons at home,” a teacher, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint.
The method has been adopted by private institutes such as the Burn Hall Boys’ School in Sonwar and Delhi Public School in Srinagar, among others.
For those studying in government schools, however, there has been no other way but to just wait till the situation normalises enough for them to attend classes.
The Jammu and Kashmir government, in the meanwhile, has claimed that over 4,000 schools are now operational and classes have resumed. But a visit to the administrative departments of several schools by ThePrint has revealed that these institutes have only opened to complete the registration process for board exams of classes 10, 11 and 12.
“We cannot hold classes as the situation is still not under control. There is no way in which to convey messages to children or the teachers. We have opened the school and urged students of class 10, 11 and 12 to come and register themselves for the state board exams that is scheduled to be held in last week of October,” added the teacher.
Many institutes have also advised children to come in civil clothes for security reasons.
A 7-km walk to school, only to return disappointed
Zeenat, a Class 10 student at a government senior secondary school in Srinagar, was angry and disappointed. She had walked nearly 7 km for the last three days from her home at Khonmoh to a school in Sonwar, only to return disheartened.
Her school is open but no classes are being held. The students are asked to return home. Unlike those studying in private institutes, children at government schools do not have the privilege of video lessons either.
“There is no way of knowing if schools are open or shut. On TV, they say that schools are operational and we walk all the way to attend classes. But upon reaching, we are told that classes won’t be held,” she said.
The teenager added that tuition centres have also been kept shut. “Two days ago, we went for classes at a centre but it was locked. A notice was pasted on the wall outside the building, saying it will reopen soon. But there is no way of finding out when,” she said.
Her friend, who did not wish to be named, added, “We do not care about the government or any party. Why should we suffer because of politics? Will this government assure us that we will be able to give our exams? How will we excel if they cannot even give us a conducive environment to study?”
Only 48 per cent of syllabus complete
A J&K official said only 48 per cent of the syllabi in classes 10, 11 and 12 have been completed by most schools in the region while final exams are scheduled to be held in the last week of October.
“No one knew beforehand that the government would make such an announcement or schools will be shut down. Had we known, we would have expedited the syllabus,” another teacher at a government school in Srinagar said.
Many of the students who came to fill registration forms for classes 10, 11 and 12 also wanted to meet their teachers in order to clear doubts about their lessons. But many of them returned without their queries getting addressed.
“It is mostly the school staff and a few teachers who have been doing the registrations. We often do not find our subject teachers. There is no way to call them or our friends to clear our doubts,” said a student at the Boy’s Senior Secondary School in Srinagar.
No registrations for classes 10, 11 & 12
A teenage girl — the topper of her class — had reached her school in downtown Kashmir some days ago only to find a huge lock hanging on its gates. She had gone to school after her cousin informed about registrations taking place for classes 10, 11 and 12.
Not finding anyone else, she had asked a CRPF personnel deployed outside the school for help. He couldn’t provide her with any information either.
“I was told that the last day to register is 8 August. What if I am unable to do it? I will end up losing an entire year,” she said.
A staff at the Government Girls Senior Higher Secondary School in Khanyar, a locality in downtown Srinagar, said some schools may not have opened due to the law and order situation.
“Though the last date for students to register is 8 August, the deadline for schools to complete the process is 13 August. However, only 50 per cent of the registration work has been done till now,” the staff member told ThePrint.
Testing times for college students too
It is not only the school students who have been facing problems. College goers preparing for competitive exams are facing an equally uphill battle to register and submit various forms.
With no internet connectivity in the region, those planning to take the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) have been unable to register themselves.
Abdul Waris, a student at the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Pulwama, went to the DC’s office Monday with an application seeking help for college students who want to take competitive exams.
“Our college was evacuated on 4 August, a day before Parliament abrogated Article 370. We did not even get time to realise what was happening. It was the last day of our 6th semester exam,” he said.
“I had applied for some online courses at IIT Madras and paid the fee for them too. But now it seems the money has gone to waste,” he added.
Additional Deputy Commissioner Haneef Balkhi has assured Waris that a booth will soon be set up at the office of the DC to facilitate students appearing for competitive exams.
“It is a genuine concern and we will work something out for students who want to register themselves for competitive exams like GATE,” Balkhi told ThePrint.