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.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Announcing New Schools Without Plans to Build Schools is all too Common in Kashmir

Basharat points to an irony that is all too frequent in Kashmir

(Mr. Syed Basharat, 29, was born in Kreeri, Baramulla, and did his schooling in Kreeri, and later in Uri and Sopore. He graduated from the Degree College in Baramulla and completed his Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 2005. He has been a reporter for Kashmir Images, a Srinagar based daily, London based website Gaashonline.Com, and a Srinagar based journal, Globe. Currently, he is working as a special correspondent with Jammu based daily newspaper, The Kashmir Times.)

Schools on rise, not the buildings to house them

SRINAGAR: Though the number of government run schools is on the rise, the infrastructure and a proper educational atmosphere is severely lacking. Leave alone libraries, laboratories and other facilities, many schools do not even have proper buildings.

According to Mohammad Rafi Ahmad Joint Director secondary school education, there are 3923 schools including 1581 Education Guarantee Scheme Centers, 7 Higher Secondary schools, 67 High Schools, 370 middle schools, and 1898 primary schools in Kashmir division alone which are run by the government in rented buildings.

It is true these buildings do not possess proper and adequate accommodation, he observed. The joint Director added that are 326 primary schools and 48 middle schools in Kashmir division alone for which the government land is not available hence their construction remains pending. When it comes to donating land to the government run schools, in most of the cases the people do not cooperate. However, they fully lend a hand in case of a private commercial school, Mohammad Rafi added further.

In Baramulla district the department of education runs its 468 schools including 342 SSA primary schools, a few offices and some middle schools in hired buildings for which the department pays an annual rent of Rs 23.208 Lakh rupees, said Chief Education Officer District Baramulla Ghulam Mohi-u-Din Sheikh.

Similarly in Kupwara, the department runs 498 schools including 471 primary schools 23 middle school and 4 high schools in rented buildings said Section Officer Planning department of education Sanaullah Mir. He added, out of 400 SSA primary schools the department has completed construction of 165 schools only and the rest are pending because of non availability of land.

A large number of schools still continue to function in thatched huts and kuchcha buildings or even in open space in spite of the norms regarding school buildings laid down for recognition or affiliation by different agencies.

It is pertinent to mention here that in recent assembly session on March 3, admitting that poor infrastructure and manpower in the newly created and upgraded schools and colleges was marring the growth of these institutions, the minister for education Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed promised to rejuvenate the educational sector.

The question was raised by CPI (M) State secretary, MLA Kulgam M. Y. Tarigami and MLA Rafiabad Javed Ahmed Dar which attracted many supplementary questions from Harsh Dev Singh, Ghulam Hassan Mir, Nazir Ahmed Gurezi, Sakina Ittoo, Sajjad Kitchloo, Nasir Aslam Wani and many others, expressing concern at the poor infrastructure and manpower in these schools and colleges.

Despite the mid term appraisal report of 10th Five Year Plan conducted by the Planning Commission which had called for a major initiative for expansion and improvement in the infrastructure of school education sector, the infrastructure deficiencies at both elementary and secondary education levels continue to paint a gloomy picture and remain an area of serious concern in the State.

According to government’s financial year 2007-08 report, a total of 4822 primary, upper middle, high and higher secondary schools continue to be without own buildings across the State while 1474 existing buildings remain in dilapidated conditions.

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