Education is the thread that binds together the social, economic and cultural fabric of society, which is a well-established fact. There is another fact, that by investing in quality education today, we are investing in the union territory’s brighter and prosperous tomorrow. Through education, we can ensure it is a future where peace prevails, prosperity flourishes, talent safeguarded and potential is realized to its fullest extent. Comprehensive and collaborative efforts can bring more inclusive, sustainable, systematic, robust and effective education system in Jammu & Kashmir. The transformation through education requires a holistic, integral, multi-faceted and far-sighted approach both by government and by the well-heeled people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The role of land lords and rich people in these initiatives is paramount and government should encourage them to contribute and fund. It does not take much time to make a brand/stamp in education, if you have patience and wisdom to keep your interests and returns slow. Trust me, during my graduations (just two decades before), few institutions were born and now probably students from almost 100 countries are enrolled over there, notably are VIT, Vellore, KIT, Bhuvneshwar, Amity Nodia, Integral University Lucknow (not visited yet but conveyed by Prof Qayoom sb, VC) and few branches of BITs. Probably, the owner of KIT/KISS Bhuvneshwar is renting a two-room house but provides shelter to 20, 000 orphans in one of his schools. That is why he was garlanded in Jordan by the Government of Oman for such excellent initiatives in education. In J & K, few of our Schools are also doing exceptionally well including Welkin Sopore, Sanik School Nagrota and Kothi Bagh Srinagar, besides some machinery schools. Academicians and intellectuals should play their part to guide, council and escort these capitalists, if they wish to invest in wisdom.
Jammu and Kashmir Education Investment Policy 2020 (24-page document) has suggested number of measures to raise the educational standards, including it envisages roping in of private players of national and international repute to set up educational institutes. The government also directed the concerned to mobilize financial assets for establishing private universities in J & K which would be given incentives under certain guidelines and probably has opened a single window clearance system for the investors. In this backdrop, the policy envisages that the government will provide handholding support throughout the process of setting up of educational initiatives including smart schools and campuses, residential schools and colleges, technical education institutes, private medical colleges and universities. This also coincides with NEP 2020, wherein excellent universities (top 100) can have their branches, including the foreign.
Last year, Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha laid the foundation stone of Kashmir Medical College & Super-Speciality Hospital being developed by Milli Trust, Delhi, at Sempora, Medicity, Srinagar. This private medical college, once functional would throw up a unique opportunity to thousands of Kashmiri aspirants to build careers in medical education in their own homeland instead of seeking admissions in private medical colleges in countries like Bangladesh, Kirgizstan and Russia. Such initiatives are appreciable. Earlier, if you remember, for opening up of any institution, the roads were bumpy, rough and complicated. JVC, Bemina was locked probably 100 times and Prime Medical College (opened by one of my beloved and visionary neighbours) was closed just after two years of its establishment. I do not compare but remind and inform about smooth roads made by the government for such initiatives. Please acknowledge, admirer and be thankful to administration, as thankfulness is a virtue of godly people.
Every year, more than 50,000 students pass 12th class and out of them more than 20,000 seek admissions in colleges outside J&K, highlighting a glaring gap in the education infrastructure at the college and university level. More so, we have hundreds of well-trained young scientists having post doctorial experiences from institutes of repute across the world who wishes to build their own institutions and work here. That talent has to be trapped and properly utilized. That is a human resource and that has to be groomed. No doubt, you may be fatigued to search Academic and Visionary Leaders for running an institution, where quality education could be imparted. Get tired. You will have fruits beyond your comprehension. Mr Imtiyaz Sb who leads G D Gonika Srinagar very efficiently has been able to invite Mr Johnson from other extreme end of the country, as there is absolutely shortage of leaders like Prof Aaga Ashraf (Education department), Prof Rais Ahmad (KU) and Prof Wakhloo sb (REC). Many a times even government fails to identify an academic leader who could lead the institution and finally compromise.
Thus, this is a right time that people should come forward and invest money and mind in building schools and universities with a world class standard. I believe we can build institutes of repute and students from many countries would love to receive education in our institutions, as was earlier. We at REC Srinagar used to have students from around 10 countries and have notable alumni around the world. Accolades and applause to few businessmen including Mr Wangnoo (Environmentalist), Mr Aijaz, KM Group of industries, Mr. Lone for Birla, Mr Faizan Mir and Mr Var for TRM college. I wish prominent businessman like Mr Mushtaq Chayya sb, Jenab Jamaal sb, Mr Trumboo, Mr Ali Shah Sb and Mr Wazir Sb (Green Acer). There are many great people, as J&K is the 13th largest and highest number of wealthy people across India. Alferd Nobel was a visionary business tycoon who donated whole of his assets for the welfare of humanity. Media have also to play the role in extending full and free support to those who wish to invest in quality education.
According to UNESCO, education is the basic human right and a global public good with the power to transform individual lives, communities and the planet for the better over generations. More so, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, have education targets (SDG-4) to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. Education is a leading determinant of economic growth, employment and earnings. Ignoring the economic dimension of education would endanger the prosperity of future generations, with widespread repercussions for poverty, social exclusion and sustainability of social security systems. The education and training of a country’s workforce is a major factor in determining how well the country’s economy will perform. Thus, we all have obligations towards societies and civilizations. We need to aspire to create a trained workforce of creative, culturally competent and critically reflective human capital who contributes to every sphere of scientific, cultural and human development in the country and worldwide.
Jammu and Kashmir envisions to become the new axis for knowledge by creating a favourable eco-system for the establishment of state-of-the-art knowledge institutes of national and global repute. It involves not just building schools, but building trust and confidence. Not just teaching lessons, but inspiring dreams and ambitions. Not just graduating students, but shaping future leaders and forerunners. More so, righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but true righteousness is one who are true to their people and make initiatives for their welfare and well-being. Education is the best and the invaluable gift you can give to societies and nations. This is an appeal to the great sons of soil to Sink Money into Quality education (SMQE) to make brand and have enough patience for its lifelong and sweet fruits. That is my slogan.
The author is teaching nanotechnology at NIT Srinagar.