Srinagar: Terming the attacks on Kashmiri students, forcing them to leave colleges outside the state, as the biggest challenge before the society, the Coaching Centres’ Association of Kashmir (CCAK) and Private Schools’ Association of Jammu and Kashmir (PSAJK) have called for joint efforts to cope up with the huge problem.
At a joint press conference called for keeping the education space “apolitical”, the associations urged leaders to shun politics that uses children.
“Around 3,000 students have arrived and more are coming. It is becoming one of the biggest challenges before us. Majority of these students, including girls, have been humiliated, intimidated and threatened. There are cases of beatings too. At places, colleges have been forced to rusticate the students and police has been pressured to register cases against them on frivolous charges,” said G N Var, Chairman, PSAJK.
In such a situation, the students are not willing to go back. Even the parents are apprehensive about their wards rejoining their colleges in such an atmosphere.
“Maybe the situation cools down in some days but nobody is sure about the future. What if a similar situation arises again? The Assembly elections are approaching and the atmosphere will be charged and polarised. In such a sensitive, there is every likelihood that our students can once again become hostage to the,” said Var, adding that “Time and again, we have been pleading that education should remain politically neutral.”
The Association also urged local political parties and leaders to “limit their words and actions” to facilitate the progress and development of education. “Had our political leaders, who are currently raising a hue and cry over the expulsion of Kashmiri students, paid heed to the development of educational infrastructure in Kashmir, this situation would have been largely avoided,” said Var.
“When these leaders were in power, they never encouraged the emergence of colleges and universities of excellence in the private sector and the result is that Kashmir is an educationally-backward region. Every State encouraged the establishment of private college and universities except ours. Even today more than 100 files for the establishment of colleges are pending for want of clearance,” he added.
Pitching for more private sector colleges, Var said, “We want the government to come to the rescue and relax the rules for the establishment of colleges and universities, as a one-time immediate measure. Colleges and private universities should be allowed to operate from rented accommodations with the assurance of development of infrastructure in five or 10 years. Similarly, other rules be relaxed too,” said Var
To tackle the present situation (of Kashmiri students returning home), both the Associations have been working with Professors of various other institutes. It has also roped in educationists and academicians. “CCAK has already offered free admission to students in various courses. According to our analysis, most of the courses like BTech, BBA, MBA, BCA etc can be taught here by the faculty. The courses like MBBS and BDS need infrastructure. The students who were in the midst of coaching for competitive examinations like NEET, JET, IAS etc will also be provided free admission in coaching centres, as the arrangements have been made to accommodate them,” he said.
The Associations have asked all experts and professors to voluntarily register with them so that an assessment of human resource availability can be done.
The Association also demanded that elite higher secondary institutes like Green Valley Educational Institute, Kashmir Harvard, JK Public School, R.P. School, SRM Welkin Higher Secondary School, Radiant Public School Islamabad, Dolphin International, Lyceum International Pulwama, Leeds Convent Kulgam, et al which have good infrastructure be allowed to start classes in graduation courses.
“It is an emergency situation needing out-of-box solutions. We also appeal to KU, Agriculture University, SKIMS, NIT, Auqaf, Hoteliers, vacant school buildings to provide their infrastructure for the classes,” they said.
The Associations warned that if the immediate measures are not taken, the situation can go from bad to worse.
Coming down heavily on the implementation of Prime Minister Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) in the State, which they said was biased towards educational institutes of other states, the association demanded their rules be amended. “They give Rs 1,200 crore scholarship for colleges outside J&K. Had they included local colleges in the scholarship, the students would have been safe and the local infrastructure would have also developed,” said Var.
The Association threatened to boycott PMSSS from the coming session if the colleges of the State are not included in the scheme.