HRD Ministry intervenes to improve education in Kashmir

Central government has intervened to improve the state of school education in Kashmir valley, following the recent unrest after which a large number of schools were burnt down by militants.

Schools were set to fire by militants in Kashmir in July last year, following the unrest that was caused by the death of Burhan Wani.

Ministry of Human Resource Development has developed an action plan to revive education in Jammu and Kashmir, starting with the revival of burnt down school buildings in Kashmir and connecting the schools in trouble districts to those in rest of the country. While the ministry has figured out the education action plan, the troubled districts in which the plan has to be implemented on a priority basis is being figured out by the state government.

The plan that has the support of Home Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office apart from the state officials of J&K has been developed by the officials in HRD after visits to the state. Officials studied the ailing state of school education, especially in the valley after the recent unrest. According to the state government records, 31 school buildings were burnt and made dysfunctional by militants in Kashmir and districts like Pulwama, Ganderbal, Shopian were badly affected.

Out of the total schools in J&K, 81.93 per cent are government and government-aided schools, in which only 58.95 per cent students are studying. This number, according to government data is way below the national average of 66.40 percent.

Government plans to increase this number and the process has already been initiated. According to sources in the ministry, the most important part of restoring education is bringing back the infrastructure for which the government has to restore 36 school buildings in areas that were affected during the recent unrest. The deadline for this restoration work has been kept as December 2017.

The other step is to connect each school in priority areas to a sister school in another part of the country. Each of the pairs will be monitored by NGOs which would facilitate partnership and exchange between the schools. This exchange would mean exchanging of technology and connecting these schools through online mode with each other, apart from student exchange at a later stage. Initially, the programme would run on pilot mode during winter 2017 and Summer of 2018 for about 1000 students.

The government also plans to open more Kendriya Vidyalayas and CBSE affiliated schools in Kashmir and introduce NCERT curriculum in the schools. MHRD would identify a list of state board schools that could apply for CBSE affiliation.

According to government surveys, 2 percent of children in J&K are currently out of school, which is significantly higher than Himachal Pradesh and some North East states as well. The percentage of out of school children has increased between 2014 and 2016.

The dropout rate in the state is also the highest in the country – at 6.97 percent, while the national average dropout rate in the country is 4.13 percent. The worst affected is Baramula district with 15.12 per cent dropout rate.

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