‘Reading Campaign’ Biting the Dust As Majority of Govt Schools in Kashmir Without Libraries
At a time when the Primary and Middle Schools across Kashmir do not even have a proper space for classrooms, running a reading campaign is apparently failing.
SRINAGAR — After the State Council of Education, Research and Training (SCERT) announced a 100-day reading campaign, teachers of the government schools are skeptical about the campaign as middle and primary schools in Kashmir are without libraries.
The SCERT-JK began the reading campaign on January 10 and had said that the school children of pre-primary to class 8th will be part of the campaign.
But, the teachers of the government schools said that the government schools do not even have space for classrooms let alone libraries.
There are 5710 primary schools and 3894 middle schools in Kashmir. Out of 10.03 lacs students enrolled in government schools — 5.29 lacs male students and 4.74 lacs female students — around 6.7 lakh are enrolled in primary and middle schools only.
“Books and libraries are secondary; government schools don’t even have space for classrooms,” Sehar, a middle school government teacher, told Mountain Ink.
Support Our Journalism
You are reading this because you value quality and serious journalism.
But, serious journalism needs serious support. We need readers like you to support us and pay for making quality and independent journalism more vibrant.
She said that 5-6-year-olds in govt schools are hardly familiar with letters and numbers and 7-8-year-olds are learning words, asking them to start reading is not fair.
“Government policies and campaigns are never made with sincere intentions of helping, they never do any good rather seem more like election manifestos,” Sehar added.
Last year, Sehar’s colleague was transferred to a middle school and that school has 4 rooms: an office and all the classes are to be operated from these four rooms.
The Union Education Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, launched a 100-day (14 weeks) Reading Campaign or Padhe Bharat Scheme with a purpose to achieve the aims and objectives of the National Mission for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) called “National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN) Bharat Mission.
The SCERT J&K had nominated two Nodal Officers for the effective implementation of the Reading Campaign in J&K.
The Directorate of School Education and Literacy (DSEL) has already conveyed to J&K to take full advantage of the initiative and ensure that 100 percent of books available in school libraries are issued to students.
“This campaign is good for high school students or students in private schools, as they have libraries and reading rooms available,” said another middle school teacher.
“We have to combine two classes in a single room and two teachers have to teach simultaneously to two different classes, it’s so messy and uncontrollable,” the teacher lamented.
Officials are trying to paint a good image by starting these campaigns; they have no idea about what’s going on at the grassroots level, the teacher added.
According to New Education Policy (NEP)-2020, the Government of India has focused on the capacity building of teachers under various interventions for making a library culture in the schools. Such campaigns aren’t feasible in government schools because of various reasons, said Mohammad Ashraf, a middle school teacher.
“Our students can barely read their own textbooks, how can we ask them to read other books.”
Ashraf said, “We are operating three schools, one middle and two primary schools from three rooms and one of them is an office. We have now constructed tin sheds and are operating from there.”
He said that since they are three schools combined, they have a collection of around 250 books and have kept them in sheds, but again, are not able to attract students to the books. “Our schools are so boring that even teachers don’t feel like coming to schools, so, it is really unfair of us to expect this from our students,” Ashraf added.
A DIET (District Institue of Education and Training) Principal said that primary and middle schools don’t have libraries, but teachers are still trying their best by getting books from their homes and reading stories to students.
A Zonal Education Officer, Abdul Salam said that he is hopeful that in the new budget government schools will get libraries and laboratories.
“Even if we don’t have libraries, it’s not a big deal, we also studied at government schools and had no libraries but we turned out fine. Teachers who complain about these things are just giving excuses. If they want, they can make mountains move. The fact is that government teachers don’t care or pay any attention to students. Had they been interested in educating students they would have done that even under a tree,” he added.
Become Our Ally
To help us strengthen the tradition of quality reading and writing, we need allies like YOU. Subscribe to us.
Aaliya Shalla is a trainee staff writer at the Mountain Ink. She is a pass out of Multimedia & Mass Communication from the Govt. Degree College, Baramulla.