Limited Internet Access: Future of students is at stake in Kashmir - Kashmir Student Alerts


Friday, 20 March 2020

Limited Internet Access: Future of students is at stake in Kashmir

The internet has brought about much advancement in education. The internet could serve as a tutor to the students. The students can use the internet for quick purposes to avail information and the knowledge they need for their projects and assignments.
In spite of the debates and criticisms against internet use for students, it still contributes to the growth in their lives and academic world. The Internet is considered as the world of knowledge for students.
By the virtue of the Internet, Students can get study relevant materials by surfing websites related to their subject they are studying.
One of the major advantage is the availability of online lectures, video sessions, without spending any charges. This is not only for students but the teachers also get connected to get various researches which enable them to reinforce their lessons.
The above picture of the importance of the Internet is general that is everyone aware of. But when we talk about the importance of the Internet in Kashmir, the situation is something different.
In Kashmir, we have a good schedule of vacations in our educational institutions. The academic year normally starts with two months of winter vacations, 15-20 days summer vacations and two months for carrying out examinations related activities.
Not only this, we devote at least 3-4 months to strikes and curfews. And as such our educational institutions have only 60 days for imparting education to the students.
The Academic Staff in Kashmir were preparing to impart education and to utilize these 60 days but in view of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak worldwide, the government of Jammu and Kashmir ordered the closure of all academic institutions, including schools colleges and universities, across the Union Territory till 31st March 2020.
The schools in Kashmir have been closed resulting in affecting the study of students which is no less than a disaster. The students are capable enough to study themselves on the internet by watching video lectures and downloading study material etc. but unfortunately the important tool Internet is not available to the students of Kashmir believes AsifMujtaba, a student of M.Tech 4th Semester.
Where lays the solution then? The educational institutions are closed. The students who want to study need to have access to the internet. The solution to all these problems lies with e-education. Education that is provided online can save the future of the students in Kashmir.
Though we are capable of finding a solution to one problem, we are being taken to back foot by another concern which is banning of the internet or reducing its speed to 2G. And as such, we saw 180 internet shutdowns in 2019 in Kashmir.
As the internet service is now working in Kashmir but due to access to 2G internet only, the students are not able to find resources as it takes half an hour to load a single web page adding more to the miseries of the students.
We were starting to cover the syllabus of the students but due to the threat of COVID-19, the educational institutions are closed. We don’t have enough time to cover the syllabus and the only solution lies with the E-learning. At least if students are at home, they can access the internet and search for the study material believes RifautMajid, presently working as a Government Teacher in Kashmir.
From Academic Journals Database to use of Search Engines to Electronic Libraries, the internet is flooded with resources for students. But these resources are of no use if access to the internet is not available.
The Government of India initiated a programme called SWAYAM that was designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality. The website contains educational content of varied subjects. But achieving the three cardinal principal seems impossible in Kashmir.

Like SWAYAM, there are various other programmes developed by Government like National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and many others.
To watch the educational related videos on these websites, we need a high speed internet connection which is unavailable in Valley from 5th August 2019.
The United Nations’ fourth Sustainable Development Goal seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
Access to the Internet is fundamental for achieving this vision for the future. And for which the Government of Jammu and Kashmir is not taking any positive steps.
The administration has forgotten to think about the carrier of the students and they keep on extending the ban on 4G internet access in Valley. In a recent order which was making rounds on social media websites mentions that the ban on 4G access will continue till 26th  March and then after review will be undertaken to restore the service.
And this review process has made the students in Kashmir much busy by posting their concerns on different social media websites.
Earlier when the administration thought that providing access to the internet might be a problem for maintaining the law and order, they banned it on 5th August 2019. Later when everything went normal, they restored 2G and still, the situation is calm in Valley.
Now the administration has to come forward and provide high-speed internet access to each and everyone in Valley. So that the precious time of the students is utilized properly and they are empowered to take benefits from the Internet by searching and downloading education-related lectures and videos. 
Authors are Research Scholars at School of Education, Central University of Gujarat