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Before Policing The Education, Provide Quality

By Bilal Hussain

10 January, 2011

With the recent developments education sector in Kashmir is too hot to touch, chilling chilakalan instead of cooling it down is acting as fuel to further heat it up. A local college lecture has been booked, police have filed a case against the senior professor of Kashmir University and row over winter schooling; all this puts the sector in docks.

A lecturer, Noor Mohammad Bhat, who heads the department of English at Gandhi Memorial college, which is run by the state in Srinagar was arrested recently for allegedly setting a paper filled with questions related to the recent unrest in the Valley. Police booked Bhat under the Unlawful Activities Act and some sections of the CrPC. "Are the stone pelters real heroes. Discuss?" was one of the questions he asked in the English paper for first year BA, BSc and B Com annual examination.

In the same question paper there was also an Urdu passage related to this year’s summer unrest to translate in English. “Kashmir is burning again. The blood of youth is being spilled like water. Small kids are being beaten to death by police and forces. Bullets are being showered in the chests of girls and women. People in cities and villages are crying in pain. Administration is still in deep slumber. It seems that they (administration) have become deaf and dumb. Though there is shortage of political leaders but they all are suffering from confusion. Their programs are not even proving to be people-friendly. Peoples’ prayers also have no results,” the passage read.

The family members of Noor Mohammad Bhat are questioning the state's action against Bhat and accused them of victimising him. "The question papers are approved by college and university authorities before being printed. If asking such questions is a crime, then those who approved it should also face similar action", they said.

In the same case Principal District and Sessions Judge B L Bhat have rejected the bail application of Bhat. Earlier, a city court had sent Bhat to police custody for six-days on December 11, 2010.

The Jammu and Kashmir College Teachers Association (JKCTA) came out in support of Bhat. "The paper was set by him (Noor Mohammad Bhat) in the month of August and we all know what was the situation in the valley at that time. Government should have kept that in mind before putting him behind bars," Tariq Ashai, President, JKCTA has said.

Ashai said, "Bhat had a clean record and had also served during elections. He is a thorough gentleman and government should take that into consideration," adding, "JKCTA will meet in coming days to decide on the course of action."

Members of the JKCTA expressed dismay over the government action. "Has he written a lie? There is nothing wrong in what he has written,'' a member of JKCTA told a local web portal on conditions of anonymity.

Within few weeks in yet another tragic event, police have booked a university professor for preparing a question paper with an 'obscene passage'. Sahitya Academy Award winner, Dr. Shad Ramzan, a senoir professor at the Kashmiri department of Kashmir University is accused to have included a 'passage on breasts' in the Kashmiri language paper for the BA First Year students. The students were asked to translate the English passage on breasts into Kashmiri language. Police has accused the professor of promoting 'immorality and obscenity'. and filed a case against the professor at the Harzratbal police station.

The passage reads: "From the ancient times, women have been concerned about the shape and size of their breasts. Breast development is the vital part of reproduction in human females. Unlike other mammals, however, human females are the only ones who develop full breasts long before they are needed to nurse their offspring."

A news report quoting a senior police officer said, Ramzan was guilty of "moral turpitude" and had been booked under Section 294 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) for promoting "immorality and obscenity", being a cognizable offence it warranted police action.

Ramzan termed the charges as "academic terrorism", Professor Ramzan said the paragraph was about the biological facts pertaining to the female anatomy.

"From seventh class to MBBS, it is being taught all across India. I took this paragraph from a text book of Unani medicine. The police should first book the author (of that book) and then they should book the people who prescribed it. They should also ban medical colleges and MBBS course because it is all being taught there," he told a news agency. According to Ramzan the government should also 'ban' poets like Ghalib, Rasool Mir and Sadat Hasan Manto," adding, "What I have said is not a sin or crime".

In yet another move by the state government’s decision to keep schools open in winter has drawn flak from the student and teacher community here, who say the move in “unnecessary”. The government has decided to reduce the period of winter vacation to compensate the loss of three months of education in view of the protests this summer here. State education minister, Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed said the high and higher secondary schools would remain open for one or two months during winter “to compensate the loss of education to students in the Kashmir Valley during the agitation."

However, students and teachers are unhappy over the decision. “The exams are over now. We have done well. There is no need to keep the schools open and deprive the students of winter vacations,” a student of government school said.

Noted Academician Dr Abdul Gani Madhoosh, too believes that academically the results are not disappointing despite the educational losses suffered by the student community. Madhosh, who is also chairman of the Dr A.G.M’S City School, says “the decision to keep schools open during winters is unnecessary”.

The school in the valley doesn’t have proper seating arrangements. The students are forced to sit on jute mats. The administration is little bothered to fix windowpanes and other minor infrastructure. To talk about heating arrangements at schools seem to be too much to be true.

Few days back the school education department most likely is reviving its decision of winter schooling in the valley following public outcry and unrelenting freezing weather. The education department now mulls closure of schools for few weeks in case there is no respite from the prevailing harsh weather conditions in the Valley.

This was all about the recent developments that has made the sector hot. The other side of it that freezes the sector is the facts about the infrastructure available for the sector. Tweeting deeper presents a gloomy picture about the vital sector.

In the Jammu and Kashmir during Tenth Five Year Plan 2002- 2007, 10.48 percent equivalent to Rs 1519.60 crores of the total plan outlay of the state was earmarked for education sector while as for the 11th Five Year Plan only 8.36 percent which means Rs 2160.37 crores of total plan outlay has been earmarked for development of this vital sector. While at all India level the education sector allocation stands as 19.14 percent during 11th Five Year Plan. It seems as if the J&K state has achieved 100 per cent literacy so is the reason for low allocation compared to all India average allotments.

The Education system is manned by 200 Zonal Educational Officers, 877 Headmasters, 10284 Masters, 51890 Teachers, 7000 Third Teachers, besides 32286 RET teachers working under SSA, out of which 4789 teachers have completed a tenure of 5 years. The state policy makers should strive hard to get away with the RET system as it affects the quality of the education in the state.

While taking into consideration the performance levels it has been observed that there is only a pass percentage of 33.74 percent for Matric Class, 34.37 percent for 10+2 Class which is a major area of concern.

In the state 4119 Primary Schools, 628 Middle Schools, 76 High Schools and 7 Higher Secondary Schools are without government owned buildings. Newly upgraded institutions 581 High Schools and 363 Higher Secondary Schools have deficient accommodation. 474 primary Schools buildings are in dilapidated condition. Top elected officials of the state should take a serious note of the infrastructural deficiencies in the education system and provide generous financial support to the system.

To further worsen the situation, 28 Upper Middle Schools are without own buildings, 52 primary Schools lack drinking water/toilet facility. 541 Middle Schools lack drinking water/toilet facility. 68 Government High Schools are functioning in rented buildings. 7 Government Higher Secondary Schools are functioning in rented buildings. 125 High Schools lack drinking water/toilet facility. 101 Higher Secondary Schools lack drinking water/toilet facility. The state government at earliest should take the corrective measures to set things right in the education sector. This could be achieved through a proper policy formulation and subsequent implementation of the same would be vital to put marred education system back on track.

The state instead focusing on the vital issues is indulging into unnecessary issues by politicising and policing it. What is needed is dedication, sincerity and seriousness from the policy makers, and politicians in the education sector.

[Bilal Hussain is a journalist, and writer. In 2009 he attended the McGraw-Hill Personal Finance Reporting Program Courses, supported by The International Center for Journalists. He is associated with the premier English Daily, Kashmir Times. His principal interests are capital markets, developmental sector and ecological economics. He can be reached at ibilalhussain@gmail.com]



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