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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Diploma Churning Shops

Basharat says experts fear that flawed education syatem may lead to a major crisis

(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.)

'Colleges in J&K nothing but degree awarding institutions'

Srinagar: The flawed educational system, coupled with government's frivolous approach to perk up, is slowly and gradually simmering into an unmanageable crisis in the state. A crisis, if not addressed now, can plunge the generation next into an abysmal obscurity, believe many academicians in the Valley.

A comprehensive plan, in addition to a separate budget is what can act as a remedy to cure the current rotten and inoperable educational format, opined experts in the field. In Jammu and Kashmir the colleges and universities like in other states of the country, have become nothing but degree awarding institutions, a number of students believe.

The existing educational institutions, in the state neither prepare the youth for advanced research in social science, physical and biological sciences, engineering, technology and management nor for employment in various productive sectors of the economy, opines a teacher, Zahoor Ahmad Wagoori.

The successive state governments have added to the gravity of problem, by permitting the opening of scores of one-room schools, colleges and universities just by one stroke of pen. Prof. Wahid Qureshi, former vice chancellor University of Kashmir, believes that the government should consolidate instead of promoting an expansion policy, in order to curb the production of unemployable youth.

"There is overcrowding of students in educational institutes. We have failed to determine the intake capacity due to political interference. Besides we lack infrastructure both in terms of men and material. So we compromise on quality," he said, while suggesting, that the government should supplement the existing educational institutions in development of infrastructure and not be in race of opening new educational institutions without proper resources.

"By opening new educational institutions especially colleges we deprive the students of quality education by restricting the choices of various streams," the former VC added. Many teachers believe that various operations and schemes have failed to deliver, especially in primary and secondary schooling levels.

"Primary and secondary education systems are in real bad shape. Despite several high sounding projects like 'operation black board', most of the primary schools are understaffed, and ill-equipped to educate children and prepare them for secondary and higher education," said Mir Altaf, a government school teacher who is posted in a far flung area in district Baramulla.

Most of the teachers also opine that the much hyped Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) is good in theory but bad in practice. It is like any other government-sponsored project whose progress is measured in terms of money spent rather than target achieved.

"The teachers have been turned into contractors, cooks, and clerics by the SSA authorities," said a teacher working in district Budgam, wishing not to be named. He added that there are hundreds of understaffed and ill equipped schools which were opened under SSA scheme. "How can one expect quality primary education in such schools where a single teacher is supposed to teach more than 80 students, arrange their mid day meals, besides teaching and working as a cleric for the same school," he observed further.

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