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Over 10 lakh Kashmir students to don school uniforms after seven months

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Schools reopen on Monday after remaining closed since August 2019
Over 10 lakh students of the Kashmir Valley will don their school uniforms for the first time in seven months, as schools will reopen on Monday after a three-month-long winter break and a seven-month-long disruption in the wake of the Centre’s decision to end Jammu & Kashmir’s special status in August last year.

Daneen Shah, a Class VII student of the Kashmir Valley School, Humhama, is excited, and said: “I wore my uniform on August 3, 2019 last. Since then, I visited my school without uniform, either to pick up e-assignments or submit assignments to qualify for examinations. It will be after a long, long time that I will sit with my friends to study again.”

Gripped by uncertainty
The uncertainty that gripped J&K forced hundreds of Valley schools to shut classes and stop bus services in the absence of communication services and the fear of street clashes. The J&K administration did try to re-start class work in phases from October last year, but failed to see a healthy attendance due to tension on the streets.

“Like other schools, we directed our students too to appear for the final examination in November last year without wearing uniforms. We did not want any trouble for the students,” said Rukhsan-ul-Nisa Qureshi, vice principal of the S.S. Islamia High School, located in Srinagar’s Malaratta area.

“Students visiting the campus again in uniform will be a good omen for the education sector. No society can compromise with the education of their kids. There can’t be anything more regressive than denying education to students. We pray the Internet is restored and access to all websites is allowed again so that Kashmir’s children have equal access to the knowledge available online,” said Ms. Qureshi.

Internet needed
Several teachers pointed out that the lack of high-speed Internet remained an area of concern. “From organising smart classes to alerting parents of students in closed WhatsApp groups to posting assignments on Facebook pages, the lack of full access to Internet will hamper teaching tools as well as the teacher-parent link,” she added.

Kashmir has 11,633 educational institutes, including 810 middle schools, 247 high schools and 37 higher secondary schools. Student enrolled up to the higher secondary level number 10.03 lakh, comprising 5.29 lakh male students and 4.74 lakh female students, according to official figures.

‘Arrangements made’
“All arrangements have been put in place to restart the session. Teachers have been directed to work with dedication for building capacities of students for the betterment of their future. Last year, the students proved their mettle and now it is our responsibility to extend our support to them and redouble efforts to get their syllabus completed well in time,” Mohammad Younis Malik, Director, School Education Kashmir, said.


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