Everyone is well aware of the fact that education leads to the development of a nation. It is education which unleashes the potential of human brain and paves way to it to do wonders. So where there are the good avenues and means of education, development is inevitable. Therefore it is incumbent upon the authorities to make all the ways and means available at easy access to students which would lead to educational development in a territory. However unfortunately education over decades has remained a casualty of disturbance in Jammu and Kashmir particularly in the winter zone. No doubt covid 19 pandemic has largely affected the education sector all across the world along with the region Jammu and Kashmir. But in Jammu and Kashmir this is not for the first time that the students have got derailed from the track of education. The students of this region have mostly remained at losing end for past many years. Over years education has remained a hard hit sector in the region and is passing through a miserable phase. There is no doubt that natural calamities, like covid-19 pandemic, the floods of 2014 etc, which hit the region and caused a disturbance to the formal education of children, are not under the control of human. But over and above that unrest in the region and the political interferences of successive popular governments have left an end to end negative effect on education sector in the region in one way or the other. Formal schooling in the winter zone of Jammu and Kashmir annually remain off for almost three winter months which is already a shortfall in the length of academic session as compared to other states and UTs of the country. In addition to that schooling since nineties in Jammu and Kashmir has remained casualty either of frequent hartals or of closure of educational institutions by authorities_ in the back drop of untoward incidents in order to maintain law and order in the region. Instead of showing any improvement the circumstances moving from bad to worst by every passing day. Since August 2019 education of children in the region which had already gone through worst episodes of 2014 floods and 2016 unrest, remained again bad hit due to shutdown in 2019 in the aftermath of abrogation of article 370 and 35A. Now that education sector was already on ventilator in the region, covid 19 pandemic proved another setback to the sector when country wide lockdown was announced immediately after the outbreak of corona.
Now there was an alternative to avoid the discontinuity of education for children, that was to switch over to online mode of education. The students of this region like the students of other parts of country could study online by attending online video conference sessions, download study material, watch subject related YouTube videos etc. But that too remained a failure in the region. Authorities have already passed on strict directions to telecom companies to restrict the subscribers of this region from using 4G high speed internet. While the people in this modern world are enjoying 4G internet and are desirous to switch over to 5G high speed internet, at the same time the people of this part of world are being dragged back to a two generations back world in terms of information technology. In this so called digitalized age when IT has developed by leaps and bounds, people of this region have no right to take any advantage of high speed internet which is an essential need for the students if they have to prepare for exams. On one hand the country is making high claims of digital India, on the other hand things are moving in a reverse direction in Jammu and Kashmir. What kind of excellence in the field of education can we expect, if our upcoming generations are debarred from the best and modern ways and means of education which are possible only through 4G high speed internet. During covid 19 lockdown teachers switched over to online mode of teaching in other parts of the country. But when the teachers of this region opted for the same, it couldn’t work well. Knowing the importance of education and it’s essentiality, the teachers immediately came forward volunteerly and began to go for Community teaching in which proper SOPs were adopted to minimise covid risk and students were given offline education. But pertaining to some conditions, it was not possible everywhere. However to some extent it worked well, but couldn’t compensate overall loss of education. Now when 4G was an alternative and could work better to provide a means of connectivity for students to avail the benefit of online education, why the authorities failed to give education a priority by restoration of 4G? remained an unanswered question!
( The author is a school teacher by profession. Views are his own) [email protected]