EducationKashmir

‘Uniform Academic Calendar’ Not In The Interest Of Kashmir Students – “Kashmir News Trust” #KNT

“Kashmir News Trust” #KNT

Academicians and Educationists from Kashmir Valley have termed the decision of implementing the ‘Uniform Academic Calendar’ in Jammu and Kashmir a very unfortunate and thoughtless order.

Pertinently, the J&K government has ordered the operationalization of the ‘Uniform Academic Calendar for both the divisions of Kashmir and Jammu from the current session in sync with the Higher Education Department (HED) and National Academic Calendar (NAC).

As per an order issued by Principal Secretary J&K School Education Department (SED) Alok Kumar, the Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) under this calendar will hold annual regular examinations of Class X and XII in both Kashmir and Jammu divisions, excluding hard or difficult zones, in March.

However, in hard zones or areas of Kashmir, Jammu divisions, and the Union Territory of Ladakh, these examinations will be held in April. But the result of the annual regular examination of the Jammu division, Kashmir division including hard zone or areas, and UT of Ladakh will be declared in June simultaneously.

The new ‘diktat’ as per Academicians will have serious ramifications and won’t serve any purpose.

“It is unfortunate that a thoughtless decision to change academic session is being thrust in Kashmir division and winter zones of Jammu division as was done in 1984 but reversed in 1986,” says Bashir Ahmad, former Director Academics & Secretary Jammu Kashmir Board of School Education.

The likely damaging effects of shifting academic schedules in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Valley are multiple.

The number of working days (200 to 213) available now for classes  X, XI and XII  will reduce to 137 to 150 days.

The number of working days (200 to 220) available now for classes  1 to 9   will also get reduced.

The active instructional time available will considerably decrease while almost throughout the country students take examinations and then have vacations to travel; do social work,  work on small projects of their choice by way of self-learning or prepare at ease for different competitive examinations;  students of Kashmir division and other winter zone areas of Jammu will have their examinations after vacations. They will have no time to travel to learn skills of life; they will have no time to do any social work or other healthy activities they would want to engage in without much stress.

The present schedule of examinations gives students of the Kashmir division ample time to prepare for national-level tests.

The existing academic schedule had various advantages. The Instructional time available was comparable with the time available for classes X, XI, and XII in Summer Zone areas across the country.

The result of classes X, and XI; as of now is declared by the end of February and this gives them ample time to prepare for different national-level tests. Class XII result as of now is declared by end of February or beginning of March and this gives them ample time to prepare for different competitive examination like JEE, Main; JEE, Advanced, BIT  SAT, National Level Engineering Entrance Examination; NEET, Indian Maritime University Common Entrance Test, NDA Entrance; IIT Joint Entrance Examination; Entrance Examination for BITS etc.

Students of classes 1 to 9 take examinations in October –November and have results by the second week of November; are introduced to the new course. The winter break of more than two months provides them sufficient time to learn the new course.

In view of the obvious benefits of the existing academic schedule, the government was requested to kindly not shift the existing academic schedule in respect of the Kashmir division and winter zone areas of the Jammu division, but unfortunately, it didn’t listen and ended the existing schedule which is not in the interest of the students.

The Department of School Education, the government of  Jammu and Kashmir has now changed the Academic Session of schools in Kashmir division and winter zone areas of Jammu division will hold annual examinations of various classes including class X , XI, and XII examinations in March 2023 when schools reopen after about 75 days of winter vacation.

It is important to recall that Jammu and Kashmir had a March session till 1974-1975. The academic schedule was changed in 1975.  While uniformity in certain areas and aspects of education is not only desirable but necessary changing the academic calendar has very serious implications for the teaching-learning process.  It will considerably lower the number of working days and hence reduce the instructional time needed to transact the new curriculum.

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Before 1974 -1975 schools in the Kashmir division including winter zone areas of the Jammu division would begin their academic session around March, the schools would run till the third week of December close for about 75 days of winter vacation, and then reopen in March. The full month of March and almost 2/3rd of April were utilized in holding examinations and preparing results. The new classes would start from the third week of April for classes 1 to 9. In respect of classes X, XI, and XII the University / Board examinations would commence in March and conclude in the second to the third week of April. The results of class X would be declared somewhere in the second week of July and the class XI session begins in the second week of August. The total number of teaching days in all cases ranged between 100 and 120 days.

The year 1974 -1975 witnessed a huge transformation of the educational system as a consequence of the implementation of the major recommendations of the Baghwan Sahay Committee (Baghwan Sahay was Governor of the Jammu and Kashmir) recommendations constituted by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir on the 1st of April, 1971. The school curriculum was drastically changed and the national curriculum adopted/adapted. The Board of School Education was reconstituted as per the Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education Act, 1975. One of the major recommendations of Sahay Committee was to change the Academic Session for the Kashmir division and winter zone areas of the Jammu division. The Committee recommended that: “The academic calendar in the State should be reorganized in such a manner that the number of institutional days in a year would be not less than 150.

The Committee had recommended that the academic calendar in the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be reorganized in such a manner that the number of instructional days in a year would be not less than 150. This can be achieved if the duration of vacations is slightly curtailed, a full six-day week is adopted, and the examination work is rescheduled to coincide with the vacations.

The Committee had observed that; owing to the large variety of climatic conditions in the State, it is necessary to adopt different academic years in different parts of the State in keeping with local needs. In the Kashmir valley, the academic year may begin on the 1st of March and end on the 15th of December. There will be two vacations; a long winter vacation of 2 months from 15th December to the end of February and short summer vacation of about 15 days given at a suitable mid-year stage. The examinations should begin on or after 15th November. All institutional examinations should be completed and the results declared by the end of November. The new classes should begin in the first week of December and the long winter vacation should begin only after the students have been introduced to the new class studies so that they can profitably use their vacation time for self-advancement. The students who have failed can also use the long vacation for self-advancement if a system of holding re-examinations for them at the opening of the new school year is simultaneously adopted. The refresher courses for teachers can also be conveniently arranged during this long vacation. In the case of the public examinations at the end of classes X and XI/XII, care should be taken to see that they are held and completed between 15th November and 15th December and that their results are declared by the end of January.

Most of the recommendations of this Committee were implemented in letter and spirit by the Government including the one pertaining to Academic Calendar. Thus after 1974-1975 academic sessions in the Kashmir division including winter zone areas of the Jammu division started in November–December. The school examinations would begin around the third week of November and results declared by end of November or the first week of December in respect of classes 1 to 9. New classes invariably started in the last week of November or the first week of December. Students were introduced to new courses before winter vacations which, depending on weather, closed for winter vacations in the third or fourth week of December. The examination of classes X, XI, and XII started in the third week of November and culminated by the end of December. The Board utilized the winter break to have answer scripts scored and results prepared. Using technology for pre-examination and post-examination processes the Board declared results of classes X, XI, and XII   mostly by the end of February paving the way for new sessions to begin in the first week of March. This arrangement gave schools 190 to 200 days to transact the new curriculum.  The new schedule helped tremendously in improving quality of education.

In 1984 July the then government of Jammu and Kashmir headed by the Late Ghulam Muhammad Shah ordered the shifting of the academic session back to March on the plea that this will allow rural students to help their parents during October –November harvest season. Consequently, schools held examinations of classes 1 to 9 in March, and class work started in mid-April resulting in a huge loss of real instructional time. The Board examinations were held in March and the results were declared latest by second week of July.

In 1986 after reviewing the functioning of the Education department Shri Jag Mohan; the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir (State was under Governor’s rule) ordered immediate shifting of academic sessions back to October-November. Having already conducted the annual examination of classes X, XI, and XII examinations in March the Board held one more annual examination in October –November.

The system; which had immensely suffered on account of an uninformed decision of shifting academic sessions by the then government; was back on rails.

In 2004 the question of having a uniform school calendar for the entire State came up for discussion. The department of education convened a meeting of academicians including teachers across the board, parents, students, representatives of Teachers’ Associations, Educational administrators, and intelligentsia in Amar Sigh college. After detailed deliberations, the meeting unanimously recommended that the academic schedule be not changed and that the existing October-November session be allowed to continue.  The meeting also recommended that the number of holidays is minimized to provide more working days to schools for quality transaction of the curriculum.

The question of having a uniform Academic session again came up for discussion. in 2007. For this the department of Education, the government of Jammu and Kashmir constituted State Advisory Board headed by Prof J R Rathore, Ex Chairman.

The Committee held wide-ranging discussions with stakeholders including teachers, parents, academicians, students and educational administrators on both issues to be able to take an informed decision on the two issues before it.

The Committee didn’t support the idea of having a uniform calendar and instead recommended retention of the October-November session for the Kashmir division including winter zone areas of the Jammu divisions. It recommended two different academic sessions for the two divisions because of their difference in topography and climatic conditions. The Committee prepared two academic Calendars –one for the Kashmir division and winter zone areas of the Jammu division and the second for summer zone areas of the Jammu division.

It is pertinent to mention that none of the Committees or commissions constituted after 1973 like the Round Table Conference of 1975, Educational Conference of 1976, and  L K Jha  Committee of 1978 recommended shifting the academic session in the case of the Kashmir division. Even the State School Education Advisory Board (SSEAB) constituted by the Government as per provisions of Section 22 of the School Education, Act 2002 didn’t at any point in time recommend any change in the existing academic schedule.

“The latest decision to have ‘Uniform Academic Calendar’ has been taken in haste without considering the local needs and the background.”

 

 

 

Network KNT

Network Kashmir is sister concern of Kashmir based News Agency Kashmir News Trust. Network KNT is a sincere attempt from budding Journalists of Kashmir to present News in its true form without any favoritism and bias.

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