Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK), Dr Ghulam Nabi Itoo inaugurated a Round Table conference titled Safeguarding Schools Strengthening Srinagar, organised by a New Delhi based organization Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transformation (SMART), in collaboration with Srinagar based Help Foundation.The conference was attended by eminent educationalists, representatives of the State Education Department, civil society members, academia, principals and students.The participants discussed the role of schools in building strong cities, tweaking curriculum to include critical thinking, building compassion, understanding and creating safe spaces where children can interact without fear of violence and radical ideologies.The Director said that a lot has been done in this regard but more needs to be done. He said that better teacher student communication, state students communication, improvement in curriculum, building of boundaries of schools and toilets in all the 24000 plus schools is required and the department is working towards it. “Today our children are going to professional colleges medicine, engineering, computer sciences. But the numbers are not enough and we need more youngsters in such professional fields,” he said.
Former Chairman Public Services Commission, Mohammad Shafi Pandit chaired the inaugural session. He said that we have lost what we could have gained during this period of turmoil. If only schools were safeguarded the future could have been assured, he further added. Principal Amar Singh College, Professor Yasmeen Ashai said that education gives students a vital link to normal life while encouraging them to maintain hope and pursue their aspirations even in the most difficult circumstances.Some other speakers included Parvez Kaul, Mohammad Rafi, Salim Beig, Neerja Mattoo, G R Sofi, Archana Kapoor and Danish from UNICEF.Highlighting some of the issues ailing the education system, the participants deliberated on solutions and categorised their recommendations into policy issues, social issues, administrative issues and those which could be handled by schools themselves.The concerns discussed in a closed door deliberation exercise ranged from the children getting used to not giving exams on various pretexts to realistic situations of closure of schools on account of the prevailing conflict.The organizers termed it as the beginning of the series of discussions on this topic. The outcome of this round table will be presented in the form of a white paper to both the Central and State Government.