Survey reveals how students view fallout of unrest on education

Published at April 21, 2017 12:14 AM 0Comment(s)2784views

Suggests education should not be politicized 

Riyaz Bhat

Srinagar, April 20:

Students in Kashmir believe the political unrest affects their education but put the onus squarely on the government, according to a report prepared by a non-profit organization which was released here Thursday.
The study on ‘Education and Unrest in Kashmir’, was conducted by Chinar International, which has been working for empowerment of vulnerable children and marginalized youth in conflict areas through quality education and socio-economic initiatives.
According to the study, while there is a concern about the unrest affecting education, there is a substantial support for ‘Hartal’ among the students’ community.
“41.7 percent of students said they observed Hartal to highlight their political issue, 19.9 percent of students said they observed Hartal because majority did the same, 17.1 percent students said they were against Hartal but the schools were shut, 13.2 percent of students remained neutral while 8 percent of students observed Hartal under duress.”
Global Executive Director of Chinar International, Irfan Shahmiri said, “We believe the education is must and we have to find balance how to manage political sentiments and educational means.”
Based on a study carried out by Jehangir Raina, the report states that 37.5 percent of students preferred to stay outside during the 2016 unrest.
Over 60 percent of respondents believed that education was affected the most due to restrictions imposed by government forces including curfews.
The report also reveals that students are willing to talk about conflict regardless of their political inclination. “There is definitely a culture of political tolerance and pluralism in this regard among the students.”
The report states that community schools emerged as a stop-gap arrangement during the 2016 unrest and the arrangements were not comprehensive enough to cater to a wider population of students.
According to the survey by Chinar International, only 15 percent of students were reported functioning as a community school in many localities during the unrest.
To compensate the loss of education winter schooling was conducted and according to the survey almost a quarter of the school children attended free winter tuition program and found it useful.
The report states that when separatist leaders call for ‘Hartal’ they do not specify health sector or other essential services could be exempted. “It is presumed that there is exemption since such services are essential even during unrest. If students including their peers who participate in stone pelting and ‘Hartal’ vigilantism, value education and regard it essential, they will grant the same exemption to education and facilitate movement of teachers and students during unrest.”
“There will be community wide efforts to keep schools and colleges open during unrest,” the report suggests.
63.4 percent of students said they were happy to return to school after the unrest while 20.8 percent of students were willing to go back to school. At the same time, 15.8 percent of students said they ‘reluctantly’ went back to school.
41.1 percent of students said they missed their ‘school friends’ the most apart from class work. 36.3 percent of students missed ‘school environment’, 20.4 percent ‘extra-curricular activities’ and 2.2 percent gave ‘other’ responses.
The report recommends that education should not be politicized and observes that participation in exams was politicized by authorities.
It suggests remedies like substituting formal education during the times of unrest, addressing students’ expectations from education, allowing student politics and advocacy with resistance leadership and the state, and creating linkage with community leaders.
“Resistance leadership could advocate exemption of education from Hartal but that might only partially solve the problem so there is need to supplement the proposed outreach by resistance group with certain compensatory solutions and substitutes.”



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