Seventeen-year-old Suraya Gulzar, a resident of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, wants to join civil services while Khursheed (name changed) from Pulwama dreams of becoming a cardiologist.
“But how will we compete in the world if we cannot study,” says Khursheed, a Class XII student who like several other children from Kashmir had no option but to shift to a Jammu school from the Valley, where educational institutions have been shut for 100 days now due to unrest. Gulzar, who too has migrated to a school here, says she wants to follow the footsteps of Shah Faesal, the 2009-2010 topper of civil services examination from Kashmir.
“You cannot join IAS or become a doctor or an engineer when the schools are forced to close. We waited for few days for the schools to open, but when months passed by, my parents decided to shift to Jammu and admit me in a school here where I can continue my studies,” she says. Scores of students from Kashmir Valley have moved to Jammu and other places in the country to continue their education in view of unrest in the Kashmir Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.
But Khursheed says there were thousands of students who wanted to study, but were not financially sound enough to move out of the Valley to continue their education. “My friends also want to study. I am lucky that my parents were able to shift me to Jammu, but for my friends their parents don’t have the financial means to shift them out of Kashmir so as to continue their studies,” he said.
Gulzar and 30 other students from Kashmir Valley have taken regular admission at the Government Higher secondary School in Sunjawan area of Jammu where special classes are being held to make up for the time they have lost. “So far 30 students from Kashmir have taken regular admission in our school and the number is increasing with every passing day,” its principal Prem Singh said. He said that he has regularly been getting phone calls from parents from Kashmir who want to shift their children to the school.
“Apart from the students who have taken regular admission, there are some students who come here to take classes. For such students we have exempted the morning assembly. They can come at their will to attend the class and leave whenever they want to,” Singh said. Khursheed rues that the future of the Kashmiri students was being put in jeopardy by the separatists. “The education of the students should be kept out of the ambit of the protest. Why are we being made to suffer. “To succeed in life one has to compete and we cannot compete with the world with illiteracy,” says Khursheed.
The students in Kashmir are also worried as the government has refused to postpone the class 10th and 12th examination in the Valley. State Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said there were no plans to defer the examinations. “There is no plan to postpone 10th and 12th exams any further. I have been receiving countless calls from worried parents and children since yesterday after a baseless report was circulated by a news gathering agency and unfortunately picked up by many newspapers,” Akhtar wrote on social networking site Facebook.
Asserting that some parents and students insisted that examinations must go on in accordance with the published date sheet, he said let the students remain focused on studies. “All the students and parents who called me insisted that exams must go on in accordance with the published date sheet. That is the decision of the government as well. Let the students remain focused on studies and prepare vigorously for exams on the due date,” he said. Following the closure of schools in the Kashmir, several private schools in Jammu too have witnessed a huge rush of students who are migrating from the Valley. In the past three months we have admitted over 100 students from Kashmir Valley and the number keeps on increasing,” said Kuldeep Singh in charge admission of a private school in Jammu.
The parents who have admitted their children in Jammu say that they don t want to compromise with the future of their children. “Back home in Kashmir we have not told anybody that we are shifting our children to Jammu otherwise we will be targeted by protestors. We just want to give our children a bright future that is why we admitted them in Jammu,” Khursheed’s father said.
(With inputs from PTI)