Amid shutdown, schools in Kashmir Valley home deliver lessons

A man walks across a deserted corridor in a government high school building in Srinagar, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019.

As parents refuse to send their children for classes amid the lockdown in Kashmir, schools have started using innovative techniques to keep the habit of learning intact among students.

Most schools in the Valley have been issuing advertisements in local newspapers asking parents to collect assignments for their children while others are providing study materials so that students don’t feel the lack of educational resources in absence of internet.

“It is for the information of all those concerned that parents who have not yet collected the assignments of their wards are directed to approach school authorities from September 16,” read a notice by a private school of Humhama on Sunday.

The assignments as well as study material are provided not only in hard copy but also in soft copy so that students, particularly those in middle and high schools, can study on computers or mobiles.

“Parents are requested to bring 16GB pen drive along with them,” read another advertisement by a school in Old City’s Hawal.

Some schools have been asking teachers to attend schools to prepare the study material for students.

Kashmir was put under a lockdown on August 5 ahead of the abrogation of Article 370, with no communication services. Since then, students have mostly remained away from schools.

From August 19, the state government gradually reopened primary, middle and high schools. However, there are no students in the classes as parents have refused to send their children to schools due to the situation in the Valley.

Despite presence of teachers and other staff, particularly in government schools, schools and campuses remain deserted. Government officials have been reiterating that attendance has been thin but “gradually improving”.

Not only schools, even private coaching centres have now started preparing study materials including video lessons for students.

“This is to inform students of Class 11 and 12 to collect study material and video lectures from the office between 8am to 12pm,” reads a notice by a coaching centre in Khanyar of old city.

The school principals insist that, in present circumstances, they are doing the best they can to keep students engaged in studies.

“We can’t force a parent to send his or her children to school as the situation is still edgy. The government often imposes restrictions and the shutdown is continuous. In these circumstances, we can at least orient students back to books by giving them assignments,” said principal of a private high school in uptown, requesting anonymity.

Another school in city outskirts of Qamarwari sent drivers of their school buses from door to door to deliver assignments to students.

“Many parents are from lower middle class and don’t read newspapers. We made sure that the message reaches every student,” said Rukhsana, a teacher of the school.

Parents have taken these measures adopted by schools positively. “My children have started writing their assignments, which is a relief. It seems there won’t be any classes or even examinations any time soon,” said Bilal Ahmad, an engineer and parent of two school-going children.

“After the 2014 floods and 2016 unrest (when Burhan Wani was killed), there was mass promotion of students upto middle classes and the syllabus of board students was curtailed. I guess something similar will happen this year,” he said. Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on August 5 ahead of the abrogation of Article 370.