Wednesday, April 25, 2018
On Sunday, the government of Jammu and Kashmir, India, ordered private academic coaching institutions for students until and including class XII to shut down for the next three months calling those institutions “distractions” for the students; with an exception of coaching institutions preparing students for professional exams.
After meeting the heads of some educational institutions, the state’s education minister Syed Altaf Bukhari said: “We had a discussion with our principals today to how to make the education system better. We have come to a conclusion that the distractions which affect our education system […] one of those distractions are the coaching centres”. He added the government is to review the status of the tuition centres with respect to their decisions twice a month.
High schools and colleges have suspended classes since the beginning of the month. Boycotting the classes, students protested against two encounters in Shopian that resulted in the killing of four civilians as well as twelve militants. Then there were protests against the gang rape and murder of eight-year-old girl Asifa Bano in Kathua who police said was held captive and sedated at a temple in January. Retired government official Sanji Ram and several others —including multiple police officers— were arrested earlier this month for, or in relation to, the gang rape and murder of Asifa. Asifa’s corpse was found in the village of Rasana on January 10.
Some of the protesters clashed with the state security forces, and pellets were fired over the protesters. Bukhari said, “Security of the students is paramount, that is why we kept schools and colleges closed. But now the students should control their emotions and go back to their classes […] Now, enough is enough, they have their protest and should attend school now.” Bukhari went on to add that they cannot “afford to have future a generation of illiterates and uneducated.” He said the students who come to the road for protests “would be treated as rowdies”.
According to an official in Jammu and Kashmir’s education department, the motivation behind the temporary shut down of tuitions was “when the coaching centres are closed, students would not have an option but to attend schools”. Coaching Centre Association president Junaid Yousuf responded to this ban, saying: “What is the point of ordering closure of coaching centres and keeping schools open? This defies logic. You are not shutting down the places where protests occur and closed those centres where there are no protests”.
“This distraction leads to fall in attendances in schools. We are not against coaching centres; we will first see how schools function. Therefore immediately we will request and order the coaching centres to stop their shops for some time[…] We are the custodians of the students and want that they are not distracted”, the Education Minister said.