Would opening colleges help restore normalcy in Kashmir?
Srinagar: All colleges and universities are scheduled to resume academic activities from Wednesday in the valley even as a question mark hangs on the attendance of students and scholars in these institutions of higher learning.
In addition to over nearly two dozen colleges, there are four universities in Kashmir. These include the first and the oldest university in the state, the University of Kashmir, Sher-e-Kashmir of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Central University of Kashmir and the Islamic University of Science and Technology.
All the colleges and universities have remained close in Kashmir since August 5 when Article 370 was abrogated.
“We have to start the examination process for different semesters within the universities and also in the affiliated colleges. We have to make up for the lost time so that the students don’t suffer because of the uncertain situation,” said an official of Kashmir University, which has the largest number of faculties and affiliated colleges among all the four universities in the Valley.
Authorities say the decision to reopen colleges and universities follows improvement in the overall law and order situation.
Schools upto Class 12 have already been reopened. But the attendance of students in these schools is far from satisfactory.
Examination for 10th and 12th are likely to be held next month and it is expected that all students will sit in those examinations to ensure that they don’t lose an academic year.
Whether students and scholars turn out to join classes in colleges and universities on October 9 will determine the success or failure of the administrative effort to put things back on track in Kashmir.
There are some basic requirements those need to be addressed for the colleges and universities to function normally.
Public transport and communication are two basic requirements. Those should have been in place for the institutions of higher learning to function normally in Kashmir.
So far, there are no indications that the authorities would restore mobile phone and internet connectivity before colleges and universities open here.
Public transport operators are yet to start their normal functioning after they went off the roads on August 5.
In absence of public transport, it would be difficult for the students to attend classes on a daily basis in any of the four universities in Kashmir. Even the attendance at the colleges would be dependent on the availability of urban public transport.
Authorities have given no indication that transport facilities would be made available for students attending the universities and colleges those are scheduled to start functioning on October 9.
Keeping miscreants and anti-social elements at bay so that the atmosphere in colleges and universities remains peaceful and also ensure the respectable attendance of students are two big challenges the administration would face on Wednesday.