Education: New casualty in Valley

Mir Farhat. Updated: 3/13/2018 1:34:47 AM Front Page

Srinagar: Education continues to be the casualty in the ongoing conflict as educational institutions were shut in most parts of the valley, even as government has no solution to the worrying situation.
All the universities, government colleges and higher secondary schools were shut today in Srinagar, Ganderbal and south Kashmir districts following the killing of three terrorists on Sunday night in Hakoora village in Anantnag district. While students were eagerly awaiting to step into class rooms, the government announced that schools and colleges will remain shut as "precautionary measure".
"The situation is like that; what we can do?" Minister for Education Syed Altaf Bukhari told The News Now. "We want that children don't face any loss in education in the conflict situation. But we have to see the safety of the students first," Bukhari said.
Education has become a new casualty in the raging conflict in the Valley, setting up new worries among parents and children. Since July 8, 2018, when HM commander Burhan Wani was killed, the schools have faced a major brunt.
While schools remained closed for four straight months in 2016 after July, last year in April, the government had to close the schools and colleges intermittently for two months when student protests erupted after security forces assaulted students in Pulwama Degree College.
Schools were scheduled to be opened on March 5 after two-month long winter break but the government could not after killing of four civilians in Shopian on March 4. Educational institutes reopened for a day only, on Saturday, in Kashmir after the winter vacation.
Today though situation was peaceful in major parts of the valley except in Srinagar and Anantnag districts, yet the authorities ordered closure of colleges and higher secondary schools in Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Tral and Ganderbal. Though in Kupwara, Budgam and Baramulla districts the educational institutions opened smoothly.
While government maintains that "safety of children" is their safety, parents and teachers say that government fears student protests over the killings of civilians and militants by security forces.
A government teacher from Pulwama said that the schools can be kept open in conflict situations as well. "Why aren't schools closed in Syria and Afghanistan where wars are going on for years. Why education is made a casualty in Kashmir conflict only," he asked.
"It is all because government wants to make education a ruse to defeat separatists among people," he said, adding, that teachers and students do not want schools to be closed.
Director School Education Kashmir, Dr Ghulam Nabi Itoo said, had told The News Now that the department has planned to take extra classes on holidays to compensate students affected by shutdowns.
"Teachers and students are very responsive to holding extra classes. We will to compensate students by holding classes on holidays, morning and evening if situation arises where schools are shut," Itoo had said.
GN Var, president of private schools association, said Hurriyat and government are on the same page on closing down of schools and colleges.
"We have been repeatedly telling government and Hurriyat to keep education conflict neutral like we have kept health and emergency services. But government seems to be listening less to us than Hurriyat on this suggestions," Var told The News Now.
He asked why the government can't keep the schools open till Middle level if it apprehends protests.

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