During the recent unrest in Kashmir it was the education sector that was hit the most. The tension that was being felt by parents and students alike due to a break in the education pattern became apparent from the excitement with which the students resumed studies and appeared for their examinations once the situation was brought under control.
The 95 percent attendance for the board exams testified to clear rejection of boycott calls by the Hurriyat. It signified a firm “No” to the disruptive policies being followed by the organisation to the detriment of the common man. It is notable that Hurriyat also gave a call for boycott of the examinations which witnessed outright rejection by the people.
The unprecedented attendance has taken the wind out of the sails of the separatist and divisive narrative that has been projecting alienation of the young school going boys and girls as the reason behind the unrest and strife in the valley.
In the realm of the education, there exists a consecrated bond between the teachers and their students. Students, after their parents, admire their teachers the most and look upon them as role models. Teachers have the ability and the responsibility to inculcate in their students value systems as also personality traits like confidence, dedication, warmth and sincerity. It is from their teachers that students get the most priceless guidance for leading a meaningful life.
Healthy relationships with teachers have imperative, constructive and enduring implications for students’ intellectual and collective development. Teachers who foster optimistic relationships with their students create classroom environments more conducive to learning and meet students’ developmental, emotional and academic needs.
Teacher’s help students reflect on their thinking and learning skills, show them the mirror, where they stand and where they ought to be.
In an atmosphere of the type prevailing in the Kashmir Valley, the teachers can make a sterling contribution towards ensuring that their students do not get sucked into the abrasive politics of a few with vested interests. Teachers can wean away the teenagers from indoctrination into a destructive ideology by taking a keen interest in their learning, development and progress.
Teachers can walk the extra mile to support students not just in scholastic pursuits but also extra-curricular activities, for job preparation, selection and placement.
While teachers remain actively engaged in nurturing their bond with students, it also becomes incumbent up for the students to cultivate the right attitude and commitment towards their teachers and their education. It is here that parents have a big role to play; they have to impress upon their children the high pedestal at which our civilisation and culture places teachers and ensure that the children learn to give proper respect and attention to what is being taught to them.
Parents need to interact with the teachers on a regular basis in order to get a view of the manner in which the child is progressing, not only in education but also in the more important aspect of personality development. Parents and teachers have to jointly work towards assisting the child in attaining his life’s goals and aspirations, put him on the path that he is best equipped to follow. Parent- Teacher Associations (PTA) can be a very effective interface for mutual understanding and as a platform for a more realistic feedback. This one step, prevalent across the globe, can prove decisive in shaping the course of the entire educational system in Kashmir. Sadly, the culture for such interaction is not prevalent in the Kashmir Valley; a few private schools may be following it but Government schools, where a larger segment of the students are studying, have yet to adopt the system.
If PTA had been a norm in the valley there would have been a fair chance of containing and checking the waywardness of the teenage boys who were indoctrinated by inimical forces to take to the streets. Constant scrutiny and joint pressure by the parents and the teachers would have been sufficient to keep the boys under control.
There are other similar institutionalised processes that can provide a fillip to the learning curve in Kashmir. Inter school and college cluster meets amongst different institutions within the valley and outside in various fields like sports, cultural engagements, quiz, debates, essay writing competitions and other activities will provide a conducive platform for meaningful cross pollination of ideas, thus lending richness to the educational experience.
Introducing NCC, Scouts, Guides in the schools and colleges will also instil a sense of discipline and awareness of adventure and fitness, besides improving post school/ college employment prospects.
The overwhelming attendance for the Board examinations has re-established the importance that the Kashmiri people, especially the students, give to education. It has once again brought to the fore the wisdom and resilience of the Kashmiir people who are determined to ensure that the future of their children is not jeopardised.
It is time to ride the wave of positivity and give a fillip to education in the right direction by introducing an integrative process, wherein, a close eye is kept on the students and their development by the parents, teachers and civil society at large. Such an integrative approach to education can change the narrative in Kashmir.
The government, on its part, needs to ride on the positivity that has been so courageously exhibited by the people and ensure that quality education through regular classes is provided to the children so as to make them competent enough to realise their dreams and aspirations.
A concerted bid at this stage to ensure that the education situation never again deteriorates to the level that it went down to in the preceding fateful months would do wonders in breaking the vitiated environment of the valley that is engineered by a few for personal interest and bring about permanent peace and stability that the people yearn for.
(Author is a senior journalist. Contact- firstname.lastname@example.org)