Education is one of the most powerful things in life. It allows us to find the meaning behind everything and helps to improve life in a massive way. It gives an understanding of world around us and offers the opportunity to use that knowledge wisely. Irrespective of race, religion and gender education makes it possible for people to stand out as equals. It is the platform that makes it possible to defeat all barriers.
Jammu and Kashmir is a hilly union territory divided by geography into two distinct administration regions Jammu and Kashmir region. It has been continuously disturbed due to Pakistan sponsored terrorism, which altered its basic social fabric and affected all other institutions including education.
Jammu being in the foothills of PirPanjal range is well connected with plains of rest of India with both rail and road now, whereas Kashmir region is situated in bowl of high Himalayan hills which render it very difficult to connect it with rail and road now.
Current State of Education.
Jammu and Kashmir has an overall literacy rate of 67.16% as per census 2011. The increase in number of schools and higher education institutes has shown great progress to uplift the level of education across the Union Territory. As per the budget analysis government of J&K has been allotted 23.49% more funds.
Union territory is home to 12 Universities, 01 x IIT, 01 x NIT, 01 x NIFT, 01 x IIMC, 01 x IIM& more than 20 x B.Ed colleges. To develop the educational institutions and quality of education government has approved following schemes :-
Shagun Shiksha, Samagra Shiksha, Mid-day meal, Diksha, Scheme for providing education in MADRASA and Inclusive education of disabled at secondary stage.
Problems being Faced by Education System of Jammu & Kashmir
Terrorism. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been plagued by terrorism since Indian Independence. Pakistan has been trying to capture the territory for last 75 years with no success. Pakistan is employing terrorists to do the job for them which has adversely affected the education system of J&K.
Pakistani Propaganda. Religious nature of Pakistani propaganda achieved limited success initially which adversely affected both education and social fabric of Kashmir Valley. Pakistani propaganda primarily targeted youth on religious grounds who readily abandoned their schools and colleges and fell prey to it.
Jammu and Kashmir is a politically sensitive region due to its geographical location, political alignment of people and continued Pakistani efforts to keep this region on constant turmoil.
Political org have been irresponsible in their approach by involving school and college going students in their protests. Students have been publicly motivated to abandon books and pick up guns/stones.
Due to regular Bandh and regular internet outage, it has been very difficult for educational institutions to function effectively.
Radicalization. It started as early as 1980’s with constant support from Pakistan to incite insurgency in Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir which resulted in number of students abandoning modern education and moving to staunch religious propaganda education. Effects of such radical education on were seen during violent engagements of civilian with Security Forces during 1990s.
Extremely Cold Climate. Jammu and Kashmir being situated in Himalayan region witnesses heavy snowfalls which results in temperature dipping below zero degree and affects connectivity to schools. Even if students are able to reach school it becomes very difficult to concentrate on studies due to extreme cold.
Connectivity. Due to the geographically as well as constant turbulent environment, infrastructure development has not taken place in the Jammu & Kashmir. Poor connectivity in the region has its adverse effects on education. Being a hilly region it has under developed road now. Most of hilly parts are covered in jungles which inhabit wild animals.
Recommendation to Improve Education System & Mitigate Problems
Curriculum should be based on countrywide accepted syllabus. Co-curricular activities should be encouraged.
To highlight the importance of education, students of Jammu & Kashmir must be given opportunities to regularly interact with students of rest of the country at all levels be it school or colleges.
To encourage competitive spirit – regular competitions between students of other parts of the country should be encouraged.
Security Situation. Due to the constant efforts of Indian Armed Forces situation in the Kashmir has improved to a great extent. Further innovative steps should be taken to make locals feel secure about sending their children to school.
Infrastructure Devp. Connectivity to remote parts of Jammu & Kashmir needs to be improved. Heating arrangement should be provided in schools to ensure that winter months are not wasted due to extreme cold.
Devp & Sports Facilities at Village Level. Sports infra needs to be boosted to provide sports facilities at all levels of education. Same can be effectively exploited to find talents of locals in various sports and discourage them from moving towards radical elements.
Political Maturity. Politicians should not only try and win seats at any cost but also focus on improving education facilities for children. Bandh calls should be avoided to keep schools & colleges functional. It should be strictly ensured that students does not get embroiled in various political activities.
After abrogation of article 370 & 35 A, Central Govt has proposed for establishing AIIMS, IIT, IIM & 07 x Medical Colleges in various parts of the Union Terrority. New rail & road lines are being laid so as to enable students from all economic backgrounds to go to other parts of country for education. Education is the most important tool to achieve stability in the region. With better education facilities and development in the region, we can bring back the lost sheen of Kashmir.
Courtesy : Ali Fayyaz