Kashmir Scan, Dec 2015

 By BILAL HUSSAIN

schools_reopenFor many children schooling is not always a progressive experience, some face tough conditions like missing or inadequate teaching resources or poor sanitation facilities, while others lack competent teachers and appropriate curriculum. Still others may be forced to struggle with discrimination, and harassment. These conditions are not conducive to learning or development, and no child should have to experience them.

In such a scenario, there is little point in providing the opportunity for a child to enroll in school if the quality of the education is so poor that the child will not become literate or numerate, or will fail to acquire critical life skills.

Future success of the child-friendly schooling initiative depends on whether it truly lives up to the ideal of extending quality education: schools with child-centered teaching practices; a safe, healthy, protective, inclusive and gender-sensitive environment; academically effective and involving of children, parents, teachers and the community at large in a more comprehensive and coordinated manner.

Current Situation

According to District Information System for Education (DISE) Survey 2011-12 and Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) State Report:  14 percent of schools in Jammu and Kashmir comply with the norm of Pupil-Teacher Ratio that is 30:1, the best in class is 11 for Sikkim and the worst is 59 for Bihar. While Pupil-Teacher Ratio for All India average is 30.

The state is also ranked worst by the report (2011-12) that reveals that 52 per cent of schools in the state have facility of toilets and only 32.7 percent have toilets facility for girl students which is considered as worst in the class at all India level.

What is needed is right to quality education that will work for every child and enables all children to reach to their full potential. Educational institutions in Jammu and Kashmir should study various educational models – Child Friendly Schools – globally having multi-dimensional concept of quality and addresses the total needs of the child as a learner.

Recently, a survey by the Jammu and Kashmir’s Education department has revealed that a large number of children in Kashmir have never attended a school while many have dropped out due to poor economic conditions of their families.

The survey has found that in Kashmir, children especially girls continue to remain engaged in domestic chores while several families desist from enrolling their children in schools due to poor economic conditions. According to government officials, there are nearly 15062 children in the age group of 6-14 years who have never enrolled in schools while 11925 children have dropped out.

Existing schemes

The state government is running schemes like Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) and Beti Anmol scheme to improve the retention rate in the schools. Under the KGBV scheme the girl students are provided free boarding and lodging facilities besides day-to-day expenses as an incentive to continue their studies. And under the Beti Anmol scheme a girl child is given Rs 5000 each for continuing with the post-matric education.

In addition to it the government is also running mid-day meal scheme under which students are provided nutrition to retain them in the schools. However, despite these schemes people continue to evade sending their children to the schools. Need of the hour is credible organization like UNICEF and STC should undertake a research and study the implementation of such schemes and loopholes in them.

Major challenge

The state government has to sees this as a major challenge to their efforts to improve the literacy rate in the State. The children continue to evade schools despite many government schemes under which incentives are provided to them to continue education. What is needed is find answers and reasons for such a behavior. And I think child friendly schooling model can address the challenge.

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