It is almost three months now since the pro-freedom shutdowns began following the killing of Burhan Wani. Boys are out in the streets to ensure strict shutdown and beat people who do not comply. The slogan is that all sacrifices are acceptable for the sake of freedom. Therefore, lives may suffer, businesses also but it is justified.
My question is what about children? Why target their education?
Months of school closure effectively destroys an academic year; worse it turns children away from studies to other issues, including politics and violent activities. Children are thus radicalized and at times criminalized in such an environment.
We receive heartbreaking reports of young children as young as 8 years old, participating in stone pelting in the Valley.
Young minds filled with hatred and inured to violence is a horrible legacy for the younger generation.
Children are being pushed into the streets and are sometimes being killed or grievously wounded.
It is unfortunate that Education Minister Naeem Akhtar is being targeted by Hurriyat leadership as well as militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Mian Akhtar was right when he said education concerns the future of Kashmir, educational institutions must be left out from the ambit of protests and shutdowns. In response, Lashkar said he would be eliminated if he continued to talk against shutdown programme.
Joint Resistance leadership called Akhtar a collaborator and declared “He and other turncoats like him are today's Mirs' Jafars', but they won't stand for long before the sweep of truth coupled with peoples' political consent.”
In the meanwhile, it is sad to know that schools are being burnt down, petrol bombs have been hurled at schools. More than five schools have been burnt down in recent agitation. Not every student wants to pick up gun or take part in agitation; they have their right but Separatists will not allow any dissent to their policy of shutdown and anti-education views.As it is education is in doldrums in the Valley and J&K in general due to various factors.
As per the information furnished by government in response to the un-starred questions of MLAs Ali Mohammad Sagar and Chaudhary Mohammad Akram, over 9829 posts of teachers, masters and lecturers are lying vacant across the state.
According to a report in Daily Excelsior paper, "As per National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2014, J&K State remained at 32nd position out of the total 34 States and the Union Territories by scoring 56 percent in language assessment while in Mathematics, the State figured at 30th position by scoring 61 percent. In the NAS 2015 for class X, 73 percent J&K children had scored in English test less than 50 percent while in Mathematics, 87 percent children scored below 50 percent and in Science, 85 percent students obtained less than 50 percent scores. Further, 'Lakhoun Mein Ek' survey (2015) by PRATHAM, in J&K, indicated that 22 percent of the children in class 8th, cannot read Standard 2 English test and 20 percent of class 8th children can't solve Grade 2 Maths problems."
The future of any society cannot be bright if its younger generation are not properly educated and free from political influence.
The call to all politicians in Kashmir Valley would be: "Please leave the children alone."