Bitter cold forces review of Kashmir winter school

Saturday, December 25, 2010

SRINAGAR - The bitter cold in the Kashmir Valley has forced authorities to mull closing the winter schooling that was started to make up for the classes lost during the months of unrest here earlier this year.

“It has almost been decided to close down the schools in the valley from January 1 as the extreme cold is making it difficult for the students to reach their schools on time,” a highly placed source in the government told IANS.

Questions have also been raised by the state finance department on the “wisdom” of the decision to continue Classes 9, 10, 11 and 12 as their annual exams have already been held, the sources said.

The ambitious decision to keep schools open during the winter months was taken to make up for the loss in curriculum because of the unrest that forced the closure of Valley schools for over four months this summer.

Now with the decision likely to be reviewed and withdrawn, people are questioning the rationale behind it.

“What use is the fanfare generated about winter schooling in Kashmir? It was not for fun that schools remained closed during winter months ever since modern education was started here in the 1880s during the rein of Maharaja Pratap Singh,” said Master Gulam Nabi, a retired headmaster here.

“Holding classes in sub-zero temperatures is neither possible nor feasible. Classrooms might be equipped with heating stoves, but what about the students who have to reach schools in sub-zero morning temperatures?” he asked.

The Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region Saturday saw sub-zero temperatures freezing most water bodies, including the surface of Srinagar’s Dal Lake.

“The minimum temperature recorded in Srinagar was minus 5.2 degrees Celsius,” an official of the weather office told IANS.

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