The first casualty of the violence in Kashmir has been education, with schools and colleges being shut from the time trouble started towards the beginning of July, when the authorities imposed a curfew. Students are now protesting the decision of the state government to go ahead with the annual examinations for Class 10 and Class 12 in November, as scheduled. State Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar has directed the state Board of School Education (BOSE) to reopen all schools and colleges to normalise the education system and conduct examinations. However, dozens of students marching at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, seeking justice for the slain, said that they would not go to their institutes unless the Kashmir issue was resolved. “Hundreds of students have been arrested and hundreds have been injured. We want an end to such violence before sitting for examinations,” the agitating students told the media. They said that they would boycott their examinations. Similar protests were reported from Bandipora, Kupwara, Shopian, Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama.
Many students said they have not been able to prepare for the examinations because of the shutdown as their schools have not covered the full syllabus. “Our session started in March 2016 and we have covered only 30% of the syllabus. Even our internal practicals are pending. How will we qualify?” the students of Class 12 were seen asking. They said that they could not sit for any competitive examinations without proper preparation or proper marks in their Class 12 examinations. They added that the government should not force examinations on them to show normalcy has returned to the valley.
“The efforts of the government are futile. When we requested them to lift the curfew they refused. They should not blame us for the closure of schools,” one of the office bearers of the Kashmir Teachers’ Forum told this newspaper. Earlier, Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar told the media that examinations would be held as per schedule and refused to comment on the threat issued by the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, asking him not to force students to return to their studies.