Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where There is Easy Money, There is Easy Exploitation

Musavirr describes challenges in a state with the highest private schooling per capita, and yet very few students from the valley have been selected for IIT, IIM admissions

(Mr. Musavirr Wani, 27, was born in Srinagar and attened the Burn Hall School. He graduated from the Meerut University and joined the Kashmir Times as a reporter. Loves driving his car and surfing internet to seek out workshops and fellowships so that he can travel and present the true picture of Kashmir.)

Tuition centres flourish in Valley with no accountability

Srinagar: With schools closed for winter vacations, private tuition centres have already taken over. Students can be seen flocking to these centres and parents too are eager to send their wards to these centres atleast for the long winter break.

Earlier, students who were weak in their studies used to go to these centres but now it has become "mandatory" for every parent to see that their children get enrolled in any of these centres. A "status mark" or a "necessity", these centres are functioning almost in every nook and corner of the valley and parents feel "privileged" to enroll their wards there.

Though it signifies that parents have to spend additional bucks on the studies of their children but it appears that they do not mind much or they think that they have no other alternative but to oblige. Already they have to "oblige" school authorities in number of ways and have to bear the educational expenses of their children in one or other form that includes tuition fee, library fee, and likewise.

Despite various efforts to introduce common fee structure in these tuition centres nothing desirable has so far come on the forefront. "Situation in this regard is becoming worse day by day. There has been mushrooming growth of tuitions centres in the valley and the same is speeding up. No one is there to maintain a check over it and the civil society as a whole too is silent over the issue. This has, however, become another way of minting money. Parents are gladly sending their wards to these centres and spending huge amount on such an exercise," commented Farooq Ahmad, a local resident.

He was of the opinion that a mechanism should be devised wherein efforts should be made to see that students cover each and every aspect of their syllabi in schools andÿ those students who are educationally weak and are in genuine need should seek the assistance of these centres.

Undoubtedly, some parents consider it necessary to send their wards to these centres whereas others do it simply because they want to follow what others are doing. "It is not always the tuition that may help the students, simple guidance at home can do but the general feeling here is that a child should be enrolled in these centres so that he/she can make best use of the time available. Even young children are enrolled in these centres and they can be seen attending them early in the morning and that too in such a chilly weather," said Muneer Ahmad, another local.

Compared to the tuition fee in these centres the facilities offered in these centres are not so appreciable. "It is just the same traditional method of teaching (chalk and talk) that is adopted at these places. No innovative ways are introduced that could be pleaded for their justification. It is just a social menace and needs to be tackled at the earliest," believed Mehnaz, a local. She too considers these centres more as a source of amassing wealth and less in the interest of the students.

Leave aside banners on the roadsides and advertisement in newspapers, there is an advertisement of these coaching centers after every five seconds on almost all local channels.

While talking to The Kashmir Times, Sajad Ahmed a lecturer by profession said, "The mushrooming growth of these institutions has simply degraded the value of education. students do not pay interest in schools and remain totally dependent on these centers. The number of students per class is 100 times more than a classroom in school or college. This is the best way to earn money without any efforts".

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