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In Pictures: Shades and Shadows of Seasonal Schooling

In Pictures: Shades and Shadows of Seasonal Schooling

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In the upper reaches of central Kashmir, two seasonal schools for the children of nomadic people are awaiting right touches and treatment.


It’s a daily slog for seasonal teacher Ajaz Ahmed through boroughs, brooks and bridges of Budgam.

After dusting miles on foot, he reaches upper pastures and stands sullen in serene surroundings.

The grassroot educator’s arduous trek, far from the commotion-crammed towns, ends on a sour note.

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

He doesn’t make peace with the piecemeal arrangements in the ‘peak’ school.

Apart from proper facilities bereft campus, the anguish equally comes from his own grossing.

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“We’ve been engaged as seasonal teachers on peanuts here,” Ajaz laments.

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

Despite running this program of educating children of nomads—Gujjar and Bakerwal tribe—for many years now, the government is yet to regularise these seasonal teachers.

Except for Srinagar and Kathua districts, there’re around 1600 seasonal teachers in Jammu and Kashmir.

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

They demand a hike in their monthly pay, regularization, a year-round salary and basic classroom facilities.

“We’re paid Rs 4,000 per month for half a year,” the seasonal teacher continues. “And nothing is paid for the rest of six months, which is an injustice to us.”

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

Ajaz and his ilk are running two seasonal schools for the nomadic community in the upper reaches of Kunzabal and Pathari area in Khan Sahib tehsil of Budgam district in central Kashmir.

These seasonal schools are located near nomadic shelters, locally known as ‘Bohaks’.

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

Such grassroot campuses usually operate for a period of six months from May to October every year for the nomadic children.

During this period (May-October), these nomads along with their cattle and sheep live in the higher reaches to avail better pasture and breeding for their herd.

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

To provide education to their children during these months, the government runs seasonal schools in these high-altitude areas.

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But, as Ajaz asserts, the government has completely forgotten the teacher community who toils hard to teach these kids.

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Their schools lack chairs, blackboards, chalks and other necessary items.

“We’re without waterproof tents here,” says Irfan Poswal, a nomadic student. “No mating is available here. Markers and chalkboards are missing. How’re teachers supposed to teach us in such conditions.”

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

The students, Irfan says, do not want chairs, desks or concrete school buildings, but a proper roof over their head.

“Because when it rains—and it rains very often here—the students suspend classes and rush back to their tents,” he says.

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

However, promising to address the grievances at the earliest, chief education officer, Budgam, Syed Mohammad Amin, says he will improve the basic facilities for the nomadic students.

“But as far as regularising of teachers is concerned, that doesn’t fall into my domain,” Amin says.

Arif Bashir Wani for MI

Since there’s no clear-cut assurance for Ajaz and his tribe, there seems no closure of his arduous trek for now.


(This Photo Essay appeared in the October 2020 print issue of the Mountain Ink.)

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