Reconstructing JK’s Academic Edifice:Winter schooling is new buzzword

Minister for Public Works and Culture, Naeem Akhtar

With over 1 lakh students in J&K enrolled for free winter tuitions and another 1000 undergoing coaching in CM’s Super-50 Programme, the Education Department’s inimitable initiatives have already started making a tangible mark in the State’s  fast-transforming academic scenario.

“These initiatives are proving to be a turning point in the state’s academic history with even the concept of winter vacations having become an outdated practice now,” said Mr Naeem Akhtar, Minister for Education, who is the brain behind these pioneering initiatives.

He said it is for the first time that hundreds of schools in the State are not only fully functional during winters, but are buzzing with academic and co-curricular activities.

Under the multifarious academic and co-curricular winter activities, the Education Department is simultaneously and successfully running three academic-advancement and personality development programmes for the students free of cost.

These programmes include Winter Tuitions, CM’s Super-50 Coaching Classes and Special Winter Camps. While 1.15 lakh students are enrolled for winter tuitions in government schools, around 1000 students are undergoing coaching for various competitive examinations under CM’s Super-50 Coaching Programme and hundreds of students upto Class 7th are also enrolled in Special Winter Camps where besides tuitions, extracurricular activities are going on simultaneously.

“I am pleasantly surprised with the response and enthusiasm of the students and parents to these new initiatives, which are so successfully going on in every nook and corner of the State since past couple of years,” the Education Minister said and expressed gratitude to the teachers for their commendable efforts in making these initiatives so successful. He said the teachers will be given additional incentives as winters are non-working days for them.

The Education Department has engaged about a thousand teachers for these special classes from amongst the regular staffers with even retired teachers having volunteered to teach at these tuition centres.

“This is a great opportunity, especially for the students from poor families who can’t afford huge fee at private tuition centres,” Naeem Akhtar said and added that instead of the students chasing the tuition centres in urban areas, the Education Department has tried to bring the facility to every student’s doorstep. He said it is heartening to note that last year scores of students from CM’s Super-50 Coaching Programme qualified the prestigious competitive examinations like NEET, JEE, CET etc.

Akhtar said the Government is of the view to make schools and colleges as knowledge hubs for not just the students and teachers but also for the community.  “The biggest and the basic challenge we are faced today is to bring our children from the cycle of hatred and violence and restore their confidence in life, make them celebrate it and end their alienation,” the Minister said and added that there is a need to change the distorted discourse among the youth and children and make them believe how they can flourish and progress in life and career while living a respectful and dignified life.

“A small beginning has been made with the coming of some consciousness about the importance of education and the initiatives taken at government level in this direction,” he said and added that it is heartening to note that with the modest but consistent efforts of the Education Department functionaries including administrators, teachers and non-teaching staff on one hand and the students, parents and the civil society on the other, there has been encouraging and tangible improvement in the educational standards of the government schools over the past couple of years. “The recent results of the Class 12th and Class 10th for the Kashmir division and Class 12th for Winter Zone of Jammu division reflect the steady and impressive transformation taking place in the government-run educational institutions,” he said.

Quoting the data, the Minister said that in Class 10th results for Kashmir division, the performance of government schools has improved by an impressive 24%, going up from the average pass percentage of 50% to 74% against the private schools which have improved their performance by just 12%. He said the overall percentage gap in the results of the government schools and the private schools has also been reduced from 29% to 18%.

Similarly, the Minister said in the Class 12th results for winter zone of Jammu division, 31 positions out of overall first 36 positions have been bagged by the students of the government schools.

Listing other reforms, the Minister said the Education Department has created a J&K Knowledge Network by connecting schools from across the state through which they are delivered inspirational lecturers from the faculty of top universities of the country and across the world.

He said two Cluster Universities have started functioning with the appointment of vice- chancellors and two new Engineering Colleges, one each in Jammu and Srinagar are also coming up.