Education Flash / Srinagar, Jan 01-15|16:
The Jammu and Kashmir government threw open at least 300 higher secondary schools in the Valley for free tutorials during winter, with over one lakh students signing up for the first such initiative of its kind.
“I am surprised by the response… 1,15,000 students have registered for our winter tutorial programme,” said Minister of Education Nayeem Akhtar. The move to open the schools — they are usually closed for three months during winter — came after the J&K government banned government teachers from taking private tuitions. The teachers have instead been offered leave benefits and asked to take free tuitions in government
“Classes will be held for five to six hours every day. We engaged 227 teachers initially but now this number may be in the thousands. After the huge response, we are ready to open as many schools as needed,” said Shahnawaz Bukhari, OSD to the Education Minister.
The winter programme is one of three ambitious projects started by the school education department this year, apart from ‘Chief Minister’s Super-50’ and ‘Gani Kashmiri Heritage and Art Centre’.
Under the Chief Minister’s Super 50, the government has selected 1,200 students from 6,000 applicants from the Valley for free coaching to prepare them for competitive examinations. The students, who cleared a screening test, will be taught in designated government schools by teachers selected to run this programme.
“Mufti sahib (Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) has a dream — to change the mindset of hopelessness and helplessness and to rekindle the spirit of Kashmir. And here is that change, the change of mindset,” said Minister Akhtar at the launch of the Super 50 programme.
“This is a great opportunity, especially for students from poor families who can’t afford the huge fees at private tuition centres,” said Bisma Mushtaq, a resident of Sanat Nagar in Srinagar, who was selected for the programme.
Keeping with its idea of “inclusive education”, the school education department has also declared 2016 as the “year of expression”. “We have a beautiful appearance but we struggle to express ourselves properly. That is why we have decided to declare the coming year as ‘year of expression’,” said Akhtar.
The ‘Gani Kashmiri Heritage and Art Centre’ aims to integrate education, art and culture.
“Surprisingly, we have only two people in the state who know the Sharda script of the Kashmiri language. In next six months, we aim to train and prepare 20 more people. We have already started teaching Persian language at the centre,” said Shah Faesal, director, school education.