December 23, 2020

Elections can wait, exams can’t

Though the undeniable reality is that politics can be put on hold, but education of the children particularly their examinations can’t be delayed under any circumstances but in Jammu & Kashmir the government over it’s decision on the timing of just concluded DDC elections preferred elections for district development councils’ (DDCs) over examinations conducted by J&K Board of School Education and Kashmir University at the fag end of academic session in October and November.  Very rarely some university examinations are prolonged till mid December.  The examinations should have been concluded much before the commencement of the 40 day long harshest period of winter called “ Chilla i Kallan” as usual but are still in progress due to deferment of the examination schedules  by  both the board and as well as the university authorities. The decision not only questions the administrative wisdom of the government over the timing of examinations vis-à-vis the timing of DDC elections but also shows it’s concern over the conduct of the annual examinations of the students in time. Government would have neither suffered financially nor institutionally and administratively if it would have preferred timely conduct of board and university examinations over the timing of the conduct of maiden DDC elections in Jammu & Kashmir. Questions won’t be asked if government would have delayed examinations for the early conduct of assembly elections to show it’s concern for the early restoration of popular rule in Jammu & Kashmir but since that was not the case the people in the civil society and media reserve the right to ask questions over the timing of DDC elections which by all standards of understandabilities shows that government is not bothered about the physical inconvenience of the students in the examinations.

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The bad experience of delaying examinations for just concluded DDC elections is a learning lesson for the government and in future the government must pursue the policy of “education first, elections later”. 

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Such highly objectionable decisions over the timing of examinations amid a heightened anxiety over increasing spread in the COVID-19 pandemic also trigger a huge spike in the mental anxieties of all the three stakeholders of the school and college examinations –the children, the teachers and the parents. Government shutting down schools for winter vacations makes no sense when the teachers and the students have to attend examination halls in schools and colleges for several more weeks across Kashmir. Though the issue of the timing of examinations is over now but government can’t evade queries over the improper heating arrangements the complaints about which are pouring in from both accessible and inaccessible areas of Kashmir valley. The bad experience of delaying examinations for just concluded DDC elections is a learning lesson for the government and in future the government must pursue the policy of “education first, elections later”.

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