Almost every student in Kashmir resents the state’s educational system. In a conflict area like Kashmir, students suffer the most. The irregular system, as well as constant conflict, has pushed many students into depression or other mental health issues. While the rich and powerful in the state conveniently send their children to high-quality schools abroad, the middle-class has no option but to suffer at the hands of ill-equipped local schools. I don’t know much about the education system in other states of India but I would like to share some major concerns about educational institutes which I observe in my district Baramulla and also in the valley:
1) There is an inadequacy of time. In universities, vacation time of 20-25 days before the exams implies that neither the teachers have enough time to complete the course nor the students have adequate time to prepare well for the first-semester exam. Earlier, during the yearly examination system, students had ample time to participate in co-curricular activities which are an essential part of their overall development. With the current semester system, very few activities are being organised for the students. Any student interested in participating must now miss their classes to do so and no attendance leeway is provided by colleges. Yet I am not a college student but another thing that I noticed from my friends was that the semester system syllabus has removed a lot of topics which were essential for the course.
2) Another major problem I want to discuss here is the attitude of the teachers. I’ve seen many of them constantly demotivating students and calling them a burden on their families. Some of the teachers are even indulging in favouritism. They give good grades only to the students they like and mark the others poorly. This also discourages a lot of students from working hard.
3) Many teachers in Kashmiri schools and colleges do not have the required qualifications to be hired for a teaching position. Their specialisation, or the lack of it, is not considered.
4) The environment in schools, colleges and universities, is not conducive to studying. Students often feel like they are in jail rather than an educational institute. The system promotes a rat race that only pays attention to rote learning and aiming for high marks. This kind of pressure sometimes pushes students to commit suicide. From the very beginning, schools do not provide students with a solid foundation of learning and understanding, which carries forward through the rest of their education.
What we learn here is the craze for marks. First, we go to school. Then we have to go for coaching classes. After that, we do 2-3 hours of private tuition to help us do well in coaching classes. Once that is over, we sit and complete a large amount of homework. I can say this is not education, this is third-degree torture. In this way, the essence of true knowledge remains behind dark walls.To find what others think about the education and the education system in Kashmir I went on a personal survey. At the school or high school levels the students are, to an extent, satisfied with their studies. But I found a whole sect of dissatisfied people who are or have formerly been the students of higher education in Kashmir. The students of the University of Kashmir and the colleges affiliated to it are the most unsatisfied ones. In this case I can generalize that all of the students are dissatisfied with the system of education because there is almost only one people in a thousand who is willing to accept that the system of higher education here is a good one. There is a solution to every problem. Our ailing education system could be improved if our officials take the lead. Such serious educational problems can be solved if the expedition starts from government and officials with true diligence, persistency and perseverance. The mandate people give to officials for betterment of the region and they should perceive their responsibilities and keep aside their personal conflicts and negotiate this matter as a whole for people, and future generations. To restate the obvious, a country cannot thrive and prosper until and unless it has an ailing education system. The initiative should be taken from within the educational base. The corruption and bribery in education cannot be eradicated till people who are in education try to become meritorious. If our education system is unreliable and run by the corrupt, nothing can be changed. By doing this, the real talent will come out and purely on merit. J&K’s education system can be exemplified by making it a pure platform of merit and this could be done by providing jobs, career opportunities and other benefits to those who actually deserve.
(The author is a student at Aligarah Muslim University. Views are his own, firstname.lastname@example.org)