Ignorance is and will never be a solution in guaranteeing peace. Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world for a better tomorrow but the fact that it has been the main causality of any conflict is certainly undeniable.
Being born and brought up in Kashmir valley from last 18 years I’ve seen the situation very closely and perceived that the biggest setback that we as a society have suffered is the gradual mortality of education. Schools being shut every now and then, courses left incomplete, classes unattended, lack of proper grooming is unquestionably leading us to a darker tomorrow. The collapse in education is the one of the main torments that our valley is facing from last many decades.
We are a state where almost 60 percent of the population is young, jam-packed with sparkling ideas which is diverse on many fronts, be it language, religion, region or culture there are certainly common threads that unite us all together like a family, the threads of tranquillity, brotherhood and indeed the dream of seeing a prosperous Jammu Kashmir.
The continuous tension in the valley has badly obstructed the aura of education, the 1990s era saw the worst phase of viciousness. Curfews used to be imposed for weeks together, crackdowns by the security agencies were a part of the people’s lives, educational institutes were shut down for months together, people were seen sending their children to Delhi, Mumbai and other cities of the country for perusing education, the elite took route of foreign lands.
Frequent vanishings of people especially of the youth was also a very serious element of fear that forced parents to send their kids out of the Valley. A sense of hysteria had permanently taken a shelter into the hearts and minds of the public.
It’s very obvious that no one would ever want his/her children to grow in such an atmosphere wherein the minds of children had started to incline more towards violence than studies; words like crackdown, curfew and gun were the first ones that a toddler would utter instead of saying “mummy” or “papa”. The children in the valley became politically conscious at an age which was absolutely not a time for them to be.
Years later, the turmoil of 2008 and 2010 again made things bad, innocent killings took place, curfews were again put in place and I remember once the government even issued the deadly shoot-at-sight order to the security agencies and once again terror had taken over the minds and hearts of the general public.
The year 2016, saw grave agitation from the people which regrettably again paved way for innocent killings, curfews and unfortunately once again educational institutes were shut with education being clamped down for almost a year.
I would speak about my own experience of the year 2016. As I was in 10th grade and my school was shut for almost six months, video lessons were prepared by the school management and circulated to children by setting up nodal centres at the houses of teachers settled all across the Valley during the peak hours of night or during the early hours of morning.
Our mid-term examinations were held under high security at the Indoor Stadium for which we children had to reach the venue by 07 in the morning. All these series of events made almost every student think as if some kind of civil war was going on. And this was definitely not what proper education meant.
Perhaps, due to my school being the top notch school of the Valley, the Almighty had been gracious that our school was able to arrange the video lessons, it was able to coordinate our examinations at some external venue.
However, if we ponder upon all this we realize that the majority of the students from our Valley weren’t lucky enough to have such possibilities. It was just a fraction of students studying in DPS Srinagar who were fortunate enough to have these chances of lessons and examination.
Gradually, things normalized but the series of continuous shutdown still continues. Examinations are still postponed then preponed and afterwards again postponed, schools and colleges are still called off, there’s a lack of proper grooming which is fundamental for budding minds to progress in an affirmative manner.
By talking about education we aren’t necessarily limiting it to the textbooks only, but the elementary idea of education involves continuous learning of new things around, of travelling, of taking part in extracurricular activities, of being a participator in sports, music and much more.
All this was and to some extend still is missing from the lives of the students in Kashmir valley. The majority of children here still don’t know what it means to have a social gathering or what it feels like to travel in an airplane, or how does a theatre work, these trivial things have a mammoth effect on the all-round development of a child.
When we look around in other states of India, the actual day of a child begins once he/she is back from school, they move around, attend social gatherings, watch movies, go to attend some dance classes, guitar classes or anything for that matter with an aim of all round progress of themselves.
This very idea of moving freely or joining some extracurricular classes is absent from the lives of we children in Kashmir, the day for a child here in Kashmir ends at the moment we enter our homes while returning back from the schools with our uniforms still on our bodies.
A sense of disintegration has been established within the young population from the outer world, the youth is feeling is being constantly and consistently pushed towards the wall, there are no good prospects for them to avail.
All this has led to the evolving of a devastating mindset within the youth of the Valley rather than a constructive one which would guarantee at bringing peace and harmony in the State of Jammu Kashmir.
A lesson that we all as a society need to learn is that education raises confidence, confidence paves way for hope and hope eventually breeds peace.
Author is a class 12th student at Delhi Public School, Srinagar