Education for Peace

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

In the time of the pandemic, the community schools have become the silver lining for the aspiring Kashmiri children. With limited access to smartphones and internet, students attend open-air community classes in remote Kashmir villages. While students and teachers maintain strict social distances, the local education department provides masks and sanitisers.

A

fter abrogation of Article 370 on 1st August, 2019, children in Kashmir had resumed their schools in this year, after lockdown. In the pandemic times, the community schools have become the silver lining for the aspiring Kashmiri children. With limited access to smartphones and internet, students in Kashmir’s remote villages turn to open-air community classes. While students and teachers maintain strict social distancing, the local education department provides masks and sanitisers. The decision of New Education Policy is really fruitful finally which ends the rigid stream system so students can select any subject they want as major and minor to naturally flourish and prosper….

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

The community schooling has resumed some campus life in Kashmir. Even though their teachers are effortlessly marshaling their keen troupes sans sticking to discipline rods, the innocent faces wonder over a slight flutter in their open air school.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes
At certain point in their classroom moment, all of them turn their heads towards the metallic road, apparently wondering what may have brought a passing jeep to the upper hilly region. The school is nestled in the lap of Himalayas devoid of the crammed human habitations.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

Not enclosed by concrete walls anymore, these children—maintaining social distancing norms—are restarting their education after their community elders with the help of Fatima Bano, Chief Education officer (CEO), and Zonal Education Officers (ZEO), Budgam decided to start this uncanny campus amidst the pandemic in the upper regions of Khan Sahib.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

After briefly returning to normalcy, schools in Kashmir were closed with the onset of COVID bringing education to a standstill.

Soon Dr. Asgar Hassan Samoon, Principal Secretary of School Education and Skill Development, advised for online classes through Zoom application, but with slow internet services, it was not feasible in Kashmir, said Mohammad Ramzan Wani, the ZEO.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

According to Wani, seven community classes were set up in Khan Sahib, but as the number of Covid cases increased, with many areas falling under Red Zone, the number trickled to three.

The classes are conducted keeping the safety measures in mind, the ZEO informed.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

While the concept of community classes has received a lot of appreciation but there’re many challenges faced by the authorities, teachers, and students.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

The unpredictable weather in the upper belts obstructs these classes.

“The weather changes quickly here,” Wani said. “Even though it’s raining now, a few moments later, the sun will be smiling at us.”

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

But for the children, it has become an uphill task, as they’ve to cover a distance of around 2 km to reach the open space amidst the unpredictable weather.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

Since the classes are organized continuously for three hours without any recess, it becomes difficult for the children to sit in the open for such a long time, Wani said.

“The children become restless after some time and the surroundings become a distraction for them.”

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

The ZEO tried to pitch tents for seamless execution of the classes, but it did not cater to everyone.

Wani also receives many complaints from parents who are worried about their children getting infected from any person coming outside Khan Sahib area.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

“Teaching is not everyone’s cup of tea,” Wani said. “And these obstacles just add more hurdles in the process.”

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

A majority of children coming to the community schools belong to the Gujjars and Bakarwals, the notified scheduled tribes in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

According to Wani, 80-90 percent of the children are from the scheduled tribes.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

Abdul Majeed who belongs to the Gujjar community has volunteered as an Urdu teacher at Khan Sahib’s community school.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

“When I saw a picture of a teacher teaching at a community school in Chrar-e-Sharief, I thought why shouldn’t we also start this practice in our area,” said Majeed, a government school teacher

https://www.wordforpeace.com/?p=5536&preview=true

https://www.wordforpeace.com/?p=5536&preview=true

The CEO and ZEO provided whiteboards, sanitizers, and masks for the school, the Urdu teacher informed.

https://www.wordforpeace.com/?p=5536&preview=true

The authorities also pay a visit from time to time to look after the progress and provide help if needed, Majeed said.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

On being asked about the comparison between the normal schools and the community schools, Majeed believes that the facility provided in normal schools—like a laboratory grooming students practically—is missing in the latter.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

But that does not stop these teachers from leading from the front.

The educators are hardworking, and they help out students in every way possible, said Mushtaq Ahmad, the Zonal Resource Person (ZRP) at Khan Sahib.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

Recently, when Mushtaq saw a picture of a community school in Lolab valley, tweeted by Asgar Samoon, he was inspired to start a community school in his area.

The teachers came up voluntarily, he said, and helped to set up the school.

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

During these tough times, the community schools are creating awareness amongst the children about COVID and how to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The children are encouraged to wash their hands regularly,” Mushtaq said. “They’re also made to follow social distancing norms, while attending the classes.”

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

Mushtaq who provides academic support to the community schools leaves his house at 7:30 am and goes to various centers to assist. He has a group of members whose hard work has helped the schools to flourish in tough times.

“Samaritans like Muzaffar Masroor, Irfan Bashir, Nisar Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Iqbal are doing exemplary work, even better than me,” said the modest ZRP. “Nothing would have been possible without their help.”

Jammu & Kashmir: Students’ capacities usher in open-air community classes

On being asked about the support provided by the ZEO, Mushtaq said, “Mohammad Ramzan Wani is the backbone of the community schools. He is empathetic towards the teachers and keeps a watch on all the activities. Because of him, the enrollment in the schools has increased.”

Tags
Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button
Translate »
Close