Over the past two decades enormous amount of energy has been spent by the conventional media on the ongoing commotion in the valley. This has enabled media to widely ignore the issues touching the general populace. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been embroiled in a fulminating expression of a turmoil that has been simmering since 1947. The issue which is long-drawn-out and violent has taken a massive toll on human lives. The violence has left colossal impact on the psychological conditions of people in the trouble-torn State.
In addition to this education scenario in Kashmir has ruined to such an extent that even can not conceived in the popular imagination. Deep down people have started questioning the practical use of education as means for the welfare of the society. Due to this suspicion, most parents encourage their children to opt for other alternatives like small businesses or anything that can have practical value in their life. Due to lack of job opportunities, educated youth are in a constant fear of their future prospects. Educated youth does feel alienated and what is worse, nothing is being done to remove this feeling of estrangement either by state government or Union Government.
Expansion of education and lack of job opportunities as an explosive combination has further weakened the optimism of the youth longing to go for higher studies. There is also a great deal of discontent among them due to high degree of corruption in state government and administration. The educated youth is well aware of lack of economic development and job opportunities.
According to the indices listed in the 2001 Census Report, the net literacy rate in the state is around 54.46%. The men lead the literacy figures with a 65.75% literacy rate while the female follow at 41.82%. The quality of higher education in Jammu and Kashmir is much deplorable. More than 25 percent faculty positions in universities & colleges remain vacant; 57 per cent teachers in colleges do not have either an M Phil or PhD; there is only one computer for 229 students, on an average in colleges. Big states in India like Tamil Nadu has 100% trained teachers. Also, in smaller states like Himachal Pradesh and Goa, 90% of the teachers are trained.
A distinct feature of the educational scenario in Jammu and Kashmir is that it has a large number of temporary and ad hoc teachers. Among all 368 universities and 18,064 colleges the J&K state have a little share of 2 state and 2 agricultural Universities, in addition, three new universities managed by different trusts of the state and a small score of colleges, reflects a slow increase and less infrastructure development among the higher education institutions. Most of the colleges do not have adequate infrastructure and proper accommodation vis-à-vis rooms.
These conditions have led to bulk of students from Jammu and Kashmir to opt out of their studies and start looking for other alternatives in which they consider militancy also as one alternative. Most of the students opt out because of their inability to meet the expenses for higher studies. The rest of the students forming miniscule come out of their state and pursue their higher education in comparatively better developed states of India. In most states of India, the students from underprivileged (economically, socially, culturally) class are being aided by their respective governments in the form of scholarships for the betterment of them. While the case is paradoxical in Jammu and Kashmir as can be described by recent example where Jammu and Kashmir government could not send their list of recommended candidates for pre-matric scholarships.
The Jammu and Kashmir government was in the category of worst performers who could not send their list for any of the three mega scholarship schemes (pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means – for the year 2009-2010). Over the past two decades much of the energy has been spent on the conflict whereas the issues related to common man have taken backseat. Most of the energy of the mainstream media has been consumed in giving representation to the political issues over developmental issues.
Thus it has become important for us to raise the question of scholarships to be provided for the students of Jammu and Kashmir, who are pursuing their higher studies. It not will only enable students to pursue their higher education but also will help parents to consider their children as assets not liability. Students receiving generous scholarship opportunities will to an extent be relieved of some of the financial burden and thus could steer student’s higher education plans.