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Education, Conflict, and Kashmir

Lockdowns and curfews were imposed around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it halted the education of almost everyone in one way or another. But Kashmir was under a strict curfew before the pandemic hit the world. The situation in Kashmir has always been volatile, and it has impacted education, especially in the areas with more and continuous conflict. However, after the Indian government revoked Article 370, it imposed an all-out curfew in Kashmir. According to the reports that surfaced on news channels and social media, Schools, offices, mosques, marketplaces, and all other places were closed, and police/army officers were deployed everywhere.

The world moved to a virtual mode of learning and teaching; however, the phone service in Kashmir was down, and it was cut off from the outside world. This ruled out the option to have online education. Even when phone services were recovered after several months, the internet connection in Kashmir was 2G, whereas a 4G internet connection is required for videoconferencing. In this situation, the only form of online education was through WhatsApp.

This was the general situation during the past couple of years, but the education system in Kashmir has long been deficient. The violent conflicts, the resistance movements, attacks on borders from both sides, indoctrination, and lack of infrastructure and resources have led to lower literacy rates and willingness to attend school. Students often join rallies and groups to resist the government or the ‘occupation’ and, as a result, do not remain interested in getting an education.

Teachers are paid significantly low salaries. Students and teachers have mental distress and need psychological support, which is not available. The job prospects of Kashmiri students are also not very satisfactory, and this is another primary reason for the students dropping out of school.

Gender is another layer in this story because girls’ education gets impacted more than that of boys. This is where cultural norms and understandings come in since girls’ education is not considered necessary. In such a violent and dangerous situation, their going to school is considered unsafe and unnecessary.

All these factors and reasons have resulted in a poor and inadequate education system in Kashmir. This is a clear example of how conflict impacts education.

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