The Jammu and Kashmir State Board of Secondary Education (JKBOSE) declared Class 10 results on Thursday, January 9, for its Kashmir Division through their website – jkbose.jk.gov.in.
Kashmiri students tackled all odds, following the declaration of their results, to check their marks – as the Valley is still grappling under its 6th month of an imposed communications blackout.
While postpaid mobile connections, broadband services, and mobile internet still remain suspended, JKBOSE Joint Secretary, Professor Arif Ahmad Akhoon told The Logical Indian that the board had made several appeals to the Central government and relevant authorities to relax restrictions for the sake of the students. "We took the issue up many times, but you know what we got as a consequence – nothing," he said.
A total of 65,393 students had appeared for the exams, The Indian Express reported. Out of the lot, a total of 48,905 have qualified, recording a 74.79 pass percentage in the respective division.
'Were Our Pleas Taken Up? You Can See Yourself'
Professor Arif Ahmed Akhoon, Joint Secretary at JKBOSE informed that the board employed various ad-hoc measures to overcome difficulties arising from the government-imposed restrictions.
"Since SMS services for post-paid connections started functioning a short while ago, we used that as one of our outlets to notify students. Along with SMS announcements we set up counters at our office in Srinagar for students to visit for information pertaining to their Class 10 result," he added.
But, media reports said that hundreds of students who visited the office of the Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education office in Bemina, Srinagar, were turned back by the officials. "We were told to check the result from the board website. It sounded like a cruel joke as there is internet blockade in Kashmir," Saniya Hamid, a candidate, told PTI.
The JKBOSE also published the results through a special 'gazette,' only holding information about Class 10 results. "We distributed our special gazettes to booksellers across Kashmir that the students had the option to purchase for checking their marks/percentage," he said.
"But why did the JKBOSE officials declare results online, when the entire region is forcibly offline?" The Logical Indian asked.
Professor Akhoon, with a hint of a chuckle, said, "We had multiple meetings over this issue with the Centre's officials. We requested them to open some wireless channel to make the process smooth. But you can see yourself, by simple observation, what our pleas amounted to."
As per him, students have been fighting all odds since August 5. From the printing of the hall ticket to the declaration of the result, 'everything is digitised' now, but Kashmiri students have had to unnecessarily struggle for 'no fault of their own.'
Since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, last year, most schools, colleges, and universities were forced shut. The Central government had ordered the reopening of schools on August 17, subsequently, but given the circumstances and the heavy presence of armed personnel, most parents kept their children away from the walls of their institutions for a long time.
'We Studied Civics In High School, But Where Are Our Basic Rights?'
Although the JKBOSE set up counters in Srinagar, provided the results through text messages, students questioned how a region with 10 large and distant districts could manage to run down to the Srinagar office and when only post-paid connections have been allowed the privilege of SMS, how could the pre-paid majority Kashmir, check Class 10 results?
"Even the gazettes weren't evenly distributed neither did we know which stores had them. Are we supposed to, on our result-day, run across town checking which store was selling the gazette? We preferred calling our relatives/friends/fellow Kashmiris for help," Kainat Mattoo, a Class 10 pass out from Kupwara, said.
Calling 'access to the Internet' a basic right, Samir Manzoor asserted how it was wrong on the part of the government to let "education suffer" so much. "We feel harassed as a group," he remarked.
"Our syllabus was suspended and left undone since the abrogation. We had to give the exams but our lessons were not even finished. However, my principal rented a few rooms for private lessons and covered the pending portion for us, incurring all of the expense. I will be eternally grateful to him," Samir, who was studying at Faiz ul Aloon Public School in Srinagar, said.
Preparation was difficult as accessing important questions, quick tips, and previous years' question papers were impossible for Kainat and others like her. She claims to have spent 14 hours studying every day to compensate for the distance enforced between her teachers and her.
"Students everywhere have educational apps like BYJU's, Meritnation, Toppr, and even NCERT-based online applications to expedite their learning process. We had none. We didn't even have schools to go to. There was only gloom, sadness, and uncertainty (that still prevails – about our future)."
Both the students had passed their tests with flying colours but said that many of their peers had failed to accomplish the same, given the difficulties around. "I got my result checked through a relative who is based out of Kashmir. That person isn't close to me but I had no option. I had to give him my roll number on the hall ticket and hear my result from him," Samir said. He added that he was dreading the gossip and rumours he would have been subjected to had he not scored 'good enough'. "I surpassed everyone's expectations but the process was definitely embarrassing."
"The world outside places a lot of importance on the education of their children but I fail to understand how we are overlooked," Kainat lamented, "If these conditions prevail, talent in Kashmir will diminish and as Kashmiris, we will have no future."
Concluding his account on his ordeal, Samir declared, "When I grow up, I wish to work for Kashmir. I want to teach young students and I want to empower them with knowledge and courage to face situations like these."
'I Checked Results For Strangers'
Senior journalist, Mir Basit Hussain, told The Logical Indian that he received several calls from random Kashmiri kids who requested him to check their results due to the unavailability of internet in their homes.
"It is a fairly simple thing, a very normal procedure, but it is very humiliating for Kashmiris (or anyone) to have to seek favours for it."
While remarking how academic marks are personal, he added that it was embarrassing for many youngsters to hear that they had failed through the strange man they had just phoned. "It was demeaning for them and put me in a very awkward place. How do I tell a child that she/he hasn't made it? A few of my callers hadn't made it and it was very heartbreaking," he said.
"What have we (Kashmiris) been reduced to? Class 10 is a personal milestone. I remember when I had cleared the exam, it was a celebration. But these children are crestfallen. Firstly, they couldn't check their own result – which is an intimate family affair. Secondly, we must ask, how will these kids remember their milestone? This communications blackout, the imposed shutdown, and the circumstances in which they studied for their examination will be etched into their collective memories," he solemnly concluded.