Will uniform academic calendar work in J&K?

Will uniform academic calendar work in J&K?

Srinagar: Recently, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta took a path-breaking decision to have a uniform academic calendar for both Kashmir and Jammu divisions. It has a lot of challenges on the ground, especially because of the harsh winters when many areas get cut off by heavy snowfall and it would be impossible for students to join schools.
Traditionally, due to the climatic conditions especially due to harsh winters in Kashmir valley, school education, along with higher education wings, followed the practice of having summer and winter zones with different academic calendars. In Kashmir valley, students used to appear for final examinations in October-November, which would be followed by a three-month break for the winters.
In the Jammu region, the final examinations used to be conducted in the month of April followed by mid-summer break due to the rising temperatures in the region. The Jammu and Kashmir government said that in order to give a level playing field to the students from Kashmir valley, a uniform calendar is must. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir is also trying to implement the National Education Policy (NEP 2020). A senior officer of the Education Department said that with the implementation of new policy in Jammu and Kashmir, all undergraduate admissions will be conducted through the Common University Entrance Exam (CUET). He said that the J&K administration is trying to provide all such opportunities to the students of both Kashmir and Jammu regions without any discrimination. Many educationists and students in Kashmir valley say that it would be very difficult after heavy snowfall for the students to attend schools, colleges etc. A government teacher who did not want to be identified said that it will not work because of harsh winters and it looks good on paper only. He said that earlier too, the government tried to hold winter schools during the winters in Kashmir valley, but all such efforts failed because of the harsh weather conditions.
While the government is preparing itself to create the infrastructure to conduct normal school work in winters, both teachers and students have reservations. “There are no heating arrangements when we go for examinations in the month of November. How will they create heating arrangements in the entire Kashmir valley for schools and colleges?” said Beenish (name changed) who is a student from a Ganderbal village. The teaching community in Kashmir is saying that they are ready for winter schooling, provided there is heating arrangement, uninterrupted power supply to colleges and schools and other such facilities. Though the government has taken a decision, it would be put to the test by the coming winter when many areas would be cut off and there would be no snow clearance operation in rural areas for months.

Sunday Guardian

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