After successive lockdowns and 2G classes messed up with their classroom routine and learning, Kashmiri students are still clueless about how to appear in the board exam two months later.
In his glum room, Salik Nazar, 18, struggles with his ânew normalâ study routine driven by the slow internet speed, hailed as a âsmooth driver of educationâ in the valley by a minister of the ruling NDA government inside the parliament of India recently.
But every time, Salik tries to understand his Physics online lecture, his phone keeps bufferingâthe pestering routine clouding his concentration and badly messing up with his already agitated mind.
However, despite this troubled routine, a non-medical student, while sticking to his study material and self-made notes, has somehow managed to complete 40% of the syllabus.
âOnline classes on 2G are a big joke on us,â Salik smirks. âWeâre left with no other option than to just memorize lessons without getting basic concepts cleared.â
Aspiring to clear a competitive exam like JEE, Salik, as a matter of fact, finds it very hard to even pass his 12th board exams.
âIâve my strong fears about it, as I could only manage month-long tuition for Physics and Math,â he says, with a brooding face.
Sailing in the same boat, 18-year-olds Elham Firdous and Sehran Mushtaq had attended their school in March this year, with a hope to feel some normal campus life.
But Covid restrictions only sent them packing home and back to square one.
Later, in the fourth week of April, as all the private schools started online classes, Elhamâs school also tried to follow the lead.
âBut all in vain,â Elham, a commerce student, sighs.
On the other hand, Sehran finds it difficult to do self-study of subjects like Accountancy.
Teachers need to use the board and âwe need to be attentive as this is the subject of numbers,â Sehran says.
âOur future is in dark, as weâre not able to clear our basic concepts. My repeated attempts to reach out to my teachers for help never materialised.â
Both students of Commerce have limited themselves to the theoretical part and have completed 30% of the syllabus without online classes. The very distressing reality is now casting a sullen shadow on their families.
âWe work hard for better education of our kids,â says Elhamâs father, Firdous Ahmed, a tourist cab driver by profession. âBut given our precarious situation in the valley, the very rough ride of education is only affecting our childrenâs future.â
Speaking on the same lines, Mahir Firdous (18), a Humanities student, believes that if teachers or schools had only thought beyond online classes, âwe would have been in a better positionâ.
The year without education and the pressure of exams from JKBOSE are also taking a mental toll on students like Mahir.
The case scenario becomes even worse when some serious questions are being raisedâlike: how will Kashmiri students face future challenges in academics without getting their basics right?
âStill,â says Mahir, âwe were expecting March session for exams, but it seems the board is in some hurry to jeopardize our future.â
In his poorly-lit room filled with books and addled with agonies of upcoming exams, Mahir is on his own todayâplaying a supposed strategist who often thinks about the impeding âstressâ season.
âEven if we manage to do something of our own now, 2G remains an uncertain companion,â he says. âLetâs say, if encounter breaks out in our area tomorrow, the internet will be soon gone with it.â
In Kashmir, education has always been the first casualty during an overwhelming situation like 2014 Flood, 2016 protests or 2019 abrogation surfaces.
In the current covid-consumed year, education is facing the same fate.
Not learning from past events, many take a dig at Kashmir-based educators for their inability to come up with aÂ situational-immune EducationÂ Model.
In Japan, itâs said, a day after the Hiroshima tragedy, teachers and students held the class in ruins.
âSimilarly,â says Abid Misgar, a postgraduate student, âin 2016, Hanan Al Hroub, a Palestinian teacher was the second prize winner of the prestigious Global Teacher Prize for his support to traumatized children in conflict.â
Educators like Hanan, Abid argues, are also needed in a place like Kashmir, where, these days, a teacher from Malbagh, Srinagar is leading by an example.
At the crack of dawn, Muneer Alam with whiteboard and chair leaves his home for Eidgahâa sprawling field in Downtown, part of which got consumed by a cemetery housing Kashmirâs conflict casualties of last three decades.
Since June this year, Muneer held Math classes in the open air. Students from different parts of the city and countryside join his early-morning tutorials.
â2G-powered online classes in the age of high-speed internet are a mockery to our students,â Muneer, 40, says.
âHow can I teach complex ideas of mathematics on the slow internet broadcasting poor audio and video?â
The online class needs gadget which labour class and government school students cannot afford, the teacher says.
With the proper protocol, Muneerâs classroom initiative has already helped students to cover 95% of their syllabus.
âMuneer Sirâs efforts are praiseworthy,â says Salik Nawaz, 17,Â a mathematic student. âResults are in front of everyone.â
However, the young teacher rues that his open-air classroom initiative has not found many takersâexcept for some government teachers of Khansahib, Budgam.
âI think, more and more teachers should avail this concept, as this is the best solution in these troubled times,â Muneer says.
âThing is, if we wonât prepare our distressed students for the future, what contribution they will give back to our society tomorrow?â
Â But despite this âinnovativeâ measure, Tabasum Rafiq, an English teacher, says in regretful voice, that the situation has already done its damage by denting an academic year of students.
âAnd now our students are staring at anxious exams,â the teacher says. âItâs like testing the tested.â
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Adil Amin Akhoon is the Managing Editor at The Mountain Ink.