Surrounded by vast paddy fields, Ratnipora, a tucked-in village on Srinagar Pulwama road has a distinction of being called an education village in the area.
This village is an address for all the good educationists, doctors, scholars, poets and literary figures.
Till the early 1990s, when education was scarce in Valley, the village had more than half of the population going to schools’ colleges and universities.
Currently, almost all the young ones go for studies and it is hard to find anybody not going to school or college. A senior citizen while putting the rough figure to foresaid that as of now, 95 per cent of the young are literate or pursuing their studies and almost 60 per cent of the elder ones constitute the literate masses of the village.
Rising Kashmir spoke to some of the locals of Ratnipora village to understand what makes the village an educational hub.
Ghulam Rasool Mir, retired government school headmaster said, “In the 1960s, Ratnipora village had a literacy rate of more than 62 per cent.”
The 80-year-old Mir has taught students for almost 55 years in many districts of the valley.
Mir said that he was appointed as a government teacher in 1961 and after his retirement, he got associated with one of the leading private schools in the village that gives 100 per cent results in board exams.
“After my retirement, I joined the Islamic Model Institute (IMI) School Ratnipora in 2001 as a principal. During the tenure of 12 years as principal, I witnessed dozens of my students qualifying top-level exams and securing seats in doctorates in different fields, engineering and other top government posts,” he said.
Mir says that education in the village has always remained a priority for the villagers.
“The locals of our village have not remained confined to pursue higher education only but has produced several good poets and politicians also,” he said.
Abdul Gani Mir, a retired senior botany lecturer, said that the Ratnipora village has remained a competitor for all the adjacent villages in terms of having a high literacy rate.
66-year-old Mir has pursued M.sc in Botany and B.ed
said that the village had educational institutions at that point of time when there were very few across the valley.
Pertinent to mention here that Ratnipora village had a Government Boys High School in the 1960s.
Sharing the experience as to how the literacy rate in the village was developing, Mir said, “Ratnipora village was always been called as the educational hub. Currently, we have a literacy rate of above 90 per cent.”
He said that the dropout rate among the students have never risen and very few persons have remained out of school.
Muntazir Showkat, the 30-year-old lecturer who teaches chemistry at Government Higher Secondary School Gadwoul Kokernag in Anantnag district said, “barring a few, almost whole village is literate and has produced several officers, researchers and politicians.”
Showkat has pursued PhD in Chemistry. He says that every literate in the village does not have a government job. “But the fact is that the youth who are holding their small business units also have a qualification of at least graduation in different fields.”
Now people from around the villages try to compete in this village and it has created a healthy competition in the surroundings. Showkat said that the dropout rate in the village is extremely less.
Mir says that all of his classmates are postgraduates in different disciplines.
Also, the village has little horticulture mostly apples but is agriculture abundant. Apart from agriculture, government jobs are the main source of capital for the inhabitants.
Another 24-year-old student of Ratnipora village, Innayat Fayaz, an arts graduate said, “As far as literacy rate of Ratnipora is concerned, it has increased at least by five per cent in past five years.”
The literacy rate is increasing in Ratnipora but from the past few years, there has been a decline in government jobs, Fayaz added.
This village had the highest number of persons in the government sector among all the neighbouring villages. But as the unemployment crisis is a pan Kashmir problem, this village took its fair share and has a good number of unemployed youths.
“Almost 95 per cent of the students above 20 years of age in the village qualify for graduation,” he said.
Fayaz is currently holding a small business unit. “I am also preparing for the entrance test for the admission of master’s degree.”
Mir Raashidah, 30, a female PhD scholar of Ratnipora village believes only 3-4 per cent of the youth are illiterate.
“In our area, there is no disproportion of literacy rate among the male-female students. The females of the village are at par with the males,” she said.
Raashidah has completed her PhD in management studies. She said, “Earlier, in the 1990s there was a bit imbalance in literacy rate wherein the male students were dominating the females but currently several girl students are making their way not only to the top universities and colleges of Kashmir but outside India as well.”
“My father was a principal at a government school and has qualifications M.sc and M.ed. Besides, my mother is also a working teacher and she also had pursued graduation.”
Raashidah has written a novel as well. “I am an author of one novel titled—A Fresh of Hope,” she said.