“Education is the direct casualty,” is a statement frequently made in reference to the toll political disturbances take on students in Kashmir. Blasts, encounters, hartals, curfews, shutdowns and extreme violence has meant that schools have remained shut since July, leaving children with almost no alternative means for continuing their education. Yet, Class 10 and 12 examinations have been scheduled for November, this year, giving students just about a month to complete their syllabus and prepare for the tests. While politicians, students, teachers, parents and the education board have varying opinions on the postponement of these exams, what remains insufficiently recognised is the the lasting, negative impacts of growing up in a conflict ridden zone, denying Kashmir’s next generation a chance to learn and develop into fully functional members of society.
Education is a key factor that can help children of conflict cope with the realities of their present state and instil a sense of purpose in the future. It is imperative, for the sake of children, to find solutions that can make education a tool for social cohesion, respecting the right and dignity of every life and cherishing every childhood. The ongoing conflict in Kashmir has taken a heavy toll on its people, especially its children, costing many their lives, their limbs and a normal life. For children, this means a life bereft of their right to education and their daily routine of attending school.
Here’s what an education system looks like for a generation of unschooled children.