News Kashmir Exclusive
The Valley of Kashmir’s already fragile education system has been hit hard by the political turmoil, natural disasters, lack of quality infrastructure in past few decades and students have been hit hard by all this.
What has been the prominent defining challenge amidst all this turbulence is the debate revolving whether the November- December session is best or the March- April session with reference to the timing of examinations of Kashmiri students. Viewpoints, narratives, arguments have all been differing with some favouring maintaining the November Session while others favouring March session.
Pertinently, a Cabinet decision in 2014 by the then state government had made it clear that examinations shall be held in March and stated “ It is a binding on all education institutions operating in the state and those violating the orders will be dealt as per law.”
The said cabinet order had made it amply clear that academic session will start from March and exams will also be held in the same month. The November session has been deferred to March and it will continue to remain so in future, the said order had maintained.
What decision will the new government take on academic calendar will it be November session or March session remains to be seen but a debate on subject is on between social circles .
While reflecting on this debate whether November session or March Session is suited, Sheikh Sameer, An Academician states – “J&K state has distinct geographical features. People have adjusted their lifestyle according to unique climatic conditions. The summer and winter activities in every sphere of life follow the somewhat different calendar of J&K people. The March session had been in practice earlier but unfortunately as it is generally believed it was changed to appease bureaucrats. It is because of bureaucratic intervention and hegemony that such system evolved for worse. November session has many disadvantages, problems that are endemic. On the other hand the advantages of March session are many. The academic session at present starts in March and ends in September (with regard to teaching-learning). As such there are only seven months of teaching-learning period. While as shifting of annual exams permanently to March session will increase the teaching-learning period. Academic year will start from April and end in November stretching the duration from seven to eight months thereby increasing the period by one month. Students can better prepare for examinations in the two months, that is from December to January. The examinations may start in mid February when severe cold is accorded ‘farewell’ and the climate starts becoming suitably warm. In winter vacation students often waste a lot of time in unnecessary home work instead of exam preparations. In this technology age students should not be allowed to wait too long for preparation and declaration of results. By March if both exams and results are over, academic session would begin as early as April. With the prospective change of the examination session from November to March many problems will get settled on their own (structurally). Let all stake holders have firm approach to make this a permanent change. Let exams be always held in March and the final class pass outs join professional and academic courses afresh without wasting any time.”
Ubaid Zaragar, a student states – “In March this year the weather was not stable which created havoc for board authorities to conduct exam on due dates. The questions were continuously arising will this (March session) continue or not. Although I think the exams should be conducted in March which will be helpful for both the 10th and 12th class students. As we all know in winters, people in Kashmir usually stay inside and most of them waste their time, either in playing cricket or in snow fighting. March session, to several students, has come as a great solution for deriving out maximum benefits from an idle phase. It will surely give them a chance to develop the habits of self-studying, reading novels, history which, otherwise, is not possible. March session will benefit students from rural areas as well. Normally, autumn is a season for harvesting in Kashmir. Most of the students living in rural areas remain busy with the crop harvest. Ironically, most of the examinations are held during the same period of the year. If the examinations are postponed until March, these hardworking students from villages will get ample time to prepare and thus will prosper both economically as well as academically.
Ubaid Zargar adds – “Another reason where I support is when we pass graduation level exams in January, we need to pause our self while waiting in getting admission inside Kashmir or outside. Then after a long they too follow the March session procedure which in fact devastates our several months. The irony in it is these months get wasted which in fact as per calculations waste the whole year.
The conduct of exams in winter is a very difficult job for authorities as well as students because of the weather conditions prevailing here. The government should make it compulsory, as its kick start was not so good. They should stick to the decision to conduct exams in March every year as it is advantageous.”
On the otherhand, there are many opposing voices too who state November session should e maintained.
Arshid Ahmad, a parent stated – “ Examination session or the academic session should e not changed to March as this will make our students, teachers lethargic. We all know we have a long winter in Kashmir and in this day and age preparing for exams is not such big deal. Making March Session a permanent feature will come with a great hazard that on overall terms winter vacations will not be utilized and these long months of vacation will not prove productive and can make our students lose touch and elegance. So we should not change to March Session as it can lead to total wastage of long intervals of Winter Vacation in Kashmir.”
Without doubt an interesting debate is on whether to have March Session or November session for our academics and policy makers should take all pros and cons into consideration before taking final call.