Community schools offer hope for students in locked J&K

PTI File Photo

As restrictions, shutdown and information blockade has affected all walks of life in Kashmir since last one-month; community schools operating in various areas have offered some hope to students, who are unable to attend regular schools.

Community schools during extended strikes, protests and curfews are not new to Kashmir as in 2016 such experiment proved beneficial for students as Kashmir remained shut for almost five months in the aftermath of the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani.

Shazia, a government school teacher, nowadays is busy in teaching at least a dozen students of her locality at her home in Lal Bazar area on the outskirts of Srinagar city. This room, in a double-storeyed residential house, is a temporary school for the children of the locality.

Shazia decided to open doors of her house for the kids in the vicinity keeping in view 2016 experience in mind. “I am trying my best that these kids don’t stay away from books at this age. Education should never stop,” she told DH.

One of the students taking classes at Shazia’s home includes Mukeet, who says he misses his school and the friends there. “Nothing can replace school. But under these circumstances, it is better to attend this community school than to sit at home,” he said.

His parents don’t allow him to venture out of the locality due to the prevailing situation and he has to play alone every day in the lawn of his home. Parents of most of the children accompany them in the morning to Shazia’s place and come back at the time they are supposed to leave.

Such community schools have become functional in the length and breadth of the Valley in the last few weeks. Most of these schools, however, teach lower and middle classes students. However, for students of higher secondary schools, colleges and universities there is no alternative. 

“Since the last one month, I haven’t been to college. There is no internet and no other way to study,” says Nadia Bhat, a college student from civil lines area of Srinagar. The educational institutions have remained shut since August 5 when the Central government scrapped J&K’s special status by amending Article 370 and bifurcating the state into two union territories. 

In the third week of August, the government ordered re-opening of primary and middle schools in the Valley, but attendance has been thin, that too, at very few places. Since then, the government is reluctant to share details about the functioning of schools. As the students are not able to go to school, people like Shazia have become a flicker of hope.

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