Education takes precedence in Naya Kashmir

Srinagar, Oct 6 (IANS): As gun culture is laid to rest in Jammu and Kashmir, dawn is rising on the book culture. Youth in the Union Territory has realised that only disillusionment and agony lie in the path of the former. They can no longer be convinced to fight a war that ends in the misery of a lifetime.
Since the government has started various educational initiatives in the Valley such as free coaching centers for competitive examinations and make-shift schools for tribal and Gujjar populace, given their frequent migration, the youth has now developed a taste for a finer life.
Education is their ticket out of the toxic environment they were subjected to growing up. It will give them a purpose in life, elevate their financial status, and ultimately lead the Union Territory towards prosperity. The youth are grabbing all educational opportunities with vigor and enthusiasm.
Last month a native of Tenz village of Shopian district and the son of a fruit merchant, Haziq Parveez Lone topped the NEET-UG 2022 exam in the Union Territory and ranked 10th in the country. He scored 710 marks out of 720. He credits his feat to his secondary and higher secondary government school teachers in Turkwamgam village (Shopian) who instilled a passion for studying hard and living a better life in him. It is pertinent to mention that Haziq belongs to a district that was notorious for its youth joining militant ranks not so long ago. Today South Kashmir is emerging as a competitive district in the fields of education and entrepreneurship.
In an effort to expose young minds to the world outside of J&K and inspire them to dream bigger, a five-day Bharat Darshan Tour was flagged off in Srinagar. The boarding and lodging facilities, including food and air tickets were provided to the students by the J&K administration. Famous multinational companies, tourist spots, major industries, and historical places were covered in the tour. The travellers described the trip as an eye-opener and life-changing. It has encouraged them to study harder keeping the wider worldview in perspective.
At the beginning of this year a Gujjar girl, Jabeena Bashir, from Shopian qualified for the NEET exam in the first attempt scoring 423 marks. She gives the credit to her government school teachers who motivated her and directed her through all steps to this achievement. The Indian Army posted at remote locations have also acted as substitute teachers to such Gujjar children who migrate with their families with changing seasons owing to their occupation.
The Tribal Affairs Department recently operationalised a 100-bed hostel for female students in Jammu and one is upcoming in Srinagar. Many such hostels will be raised to bring students closer to education centers. The hostels will have all the modern facilities and subsidized meals. Tribal students will get scholarships and computer tablets with preloaded educational content.
The Department has also sanctioned a modernisation plan for 120 schools in the tribal regions of the UT. In Phase 1 of the plan, 100 schools have already been modernised at the cost of Rs 20 crore. Under a special budget earmarked under Tribal Education Plan (TEP), the department will provide students with coaching for competitive exams such as UPSC, medical and engineering entrance exams, and IT equipment. Today the Tribal Research Institute celebrates one year of achievements in curating capacity-building programs for teachers of tribal schools in coordination with the district-level education department.
To provide quality education to youth in remote areas of J&K, 25,000 additional seats are being provided by setting up 50-degree colleges. For the first time, the higher education sector of the UT will afford quality education to the disadvantaged section of society.
Under the Aao School Chalein Campaign, there has been a 14.5 per cent increase in school enrolment in 2021-2022.
1,65,000 students across the UT have joined various schools, 80 per cent of whom had never been to school before. Such children have been put in age-appropriate classrooms according to their caliber. For capacity building of teachers, a student mentorship programme — Student & Teacher Engagement for Educational Reinforcement (STEER) — has been launched in the UT. The programme focuses on strengthening student performance in real-time through hands-on learning.
Besides, formal school education, 70,000 school children from 714 government schools are being imparted vocational training in 14 different types of trades. To carry out this initiative 803 vocational labs are in place, and 1122 new labs and 1352 smart classrooms are underway in the current fiscal year. To translate promises to action, 127 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) and 1420 Computer Aided Learning (CAL) Centres are coming up in Jammu and Kashmir.
An MoU has also been signed with HCL TechBee for providing skill training to school graduating students. The idea is to instill creativity, scientific temper, and entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students as per the counsel of the National Education Policy (NEP), stated Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.