Srinagar, Feb 3: Amid the government initiative to categorise hard zone schools as soft zones, the residents of the Verinag area in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district have sought categorisation of hard zone schools as soft zones.
The residents have demanded that the exams of the students of these areas be conducted with the schools falling in soft zone areas.
Notably, the J&K Board of School Education (BOSE) has categorised the schools as hard zones and soft zones on the basis of the recommendations of the concerned Director School Education Jammu and Kashmir division. The decision to categorise the schools was taken after the government shifted the academic session from November to March.
Recently, the JKBOSE notified the date sheet for class 10 to 12the students of soft zone areas from March this year while the exam for hard zone areas will be held after the culmination of the exams in soft zone areas.
In wake of this, the residents of several villages of Verinag areas in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district have urged the authorities to categorise the schools earlier marked as hard zone schools to soft zone citing proper road connectivity to these areas.
The residents said that the criteria used for this categorization - encompassing geographical, weather, climate, and topographical factors - do not accurately reflect the conditions in Verinag and surrounding areas.
The residents contend that the region doesn’t face the harsh winters that typically justify hard zone classifications.
“Many areas and educational zones declared as hard zones in Anantnag district are neither qualifying any parameters nor have any harsh winter impact,” said Gulzar Ahmad, a local resident of Verinag.
Residents said the schools like Government High School and Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Verinag town, along with several others have been classified as hard zones but all these areas have all-weather connectivity and are similar to the areas classified as soft zones.
As per official statistics, 43 schools in Anantnag district have been declared as hard zones. However the residents pointed out that the categorisation was flawed.
“For instance, the entire educational zone of Dooru, except one village school, has been declared a soft zone, despite being just five kilometers away from Verinag and experiencing similar weather conditions,” Ahmad said.
Another resident, Ghulam Nabi Ganai who is also the Secretary Greater Verinag Civil Society Forum said the categorisation process was not done on merits noting that the schools in hard zones have proper road connectivity and facilities akin to those in soft zones.
The residents urged the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and education department officials to reconsider the classification process.
The locals said that they have submitted representations to the Chief Education Officer (CEO) in Anantnag but no action was taken so far.
Haji Farooq Ahmad Khan, President of Auqaf Islamia Verinag said their children have to wait till April end to appear in the annual board examination. “We urge the authorities to categorise hard zone schools as soft zones and merge the exams to save the precious time of hundreds of school-going children,” he said.
The residents said that seven high schools in Verinag zone have been declared as Hard Zone schools while the entire educational zone Dooru has been declared as Soft Zone” except one village Government High School, Shalnard, Dooru.
“The distance between Verinag and Dooru is hardly five kilometres and there is no difference in weather and climate and both the educational zones are part of Assembly Constituency Dooru Shahabad,” the residents said.
Director Academics JKBOSE Dr Sudhir Singh earlier told Greater Kashmir that the categorisation of schools into hard and soft zones was done on the basis of the list sent by the directors of school education in Kashmir and Jammu divisions.
“We have notified a few schools in soft zones which were earlier categorised as hard zone schools. This was done on the recommendations of director school education Kashmir. We have received more recommendations to shift some more schools from hard zones to soft zone schools and we are considering these requests as well,” he told Greater Kashmir.