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Academic Loss Of Kashmiri Students Is Not New, But This Lockdown Poses New Challenges

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The student community in the Kashmir Valley has always been unfortunate. They suffer from academic loss almost every year due to unfavourable academic atmosphere in the Valley. From the past many years, their academic calendar has got disrupted by strikes, curfews, bandhs and other likely unfavourable conditions, which adversely affects the studies of students and, in turn, badly impacts their career-building process.

During the current academic session, all educational institutions were vigorously reopened after winter vacations and students enthusiastically joined their classes to study and learn. But not more than a month had passed and the concerned authorities closed down all educational institutions due to the prevailing pandemic situation in the Valley. As we are aware of the fact that the only way to restrain the spreading of the present pandemic is through social isolation and by staying at home, the government authorities found it necessary to announce a complete lockdown in the Valley. Hence, all government offices and educational institutions were unwillingly closed.

In this critical situation, we need to check the further academic loss of our students and, along with our government authorities, try to help our student community in order to minimise their loss. In this regard, the concerned authorities tried replacing the actual teaching-learning process with virtual methods. Even though virtual methods can never replace classroom teaching, they can be of great use during this pandemic, as we are not left with any other options.

education of students in kashmir is suffering due to no internet 4g connection

 

Teachers in the Valley are using various platforms to teach and guide their students through the use of online classes on Google Classroom, WhatsApp groups, online audiovisual lectures on Zoom Cloud Meetings, telephonic counselling, and other methods. Google Classroom is a platform to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students. It helps in distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way. However, since it can’t help us deliver our lectures online, it is not very beneficial to our students with lower grades.

Though Zoom provides free video classes and online chat with up to a 100 participants, it has many security and privacy issues. Since its launch in 2013, its software products have faced public and media scrutiny related to poor information privacy practices and computer security vulnerabilities. Besides, Zoom needs high-speed internet facility and our Valley is sans 4G internet service for the past eight months. Thus, alternatives to these two approaches are online lectures available on YouTube and using television as a media for conducting online classes.

Students can use YouTube for studying during the pandemic as lectures on almost every topic are available on YouTube, and are uploaded by professional experts. Our worthy teachers can also upload their lectures on YouTube to help the student community. Students can later clear their doubts from their teachers through telephonic calls. Besides, there is time flexibility for students in this approach as they can watch the lectures at their convenient time.

The concerned authorities can also take a great advantage from television communication in the present scenario. They should telecast online classes on television sets as it has the maximum reach in our Valley, without depending on internet connectivity. Students can also take help from their teachers on telephonic calls and messaging services and thus clear their doubts. WhatsApp can also be helpful in the present academic challenges. Teachers can share study material and assignments among their students through WhatsApp groups and initiate group discussions on different topics.

The government authorities and our worthy teachers are using various virtual methods to help our students in the present situation. Though some of the students may not get the benefit from these methods and approaches due to non-availability of latest gadgets and inaccessibility to internet services, at least it could prove to be helpful to some of them. We can’t reach each and every student through a single approach, but can be helpful to most of them through different ways and means.

Besides government authorities and teachers, it is the responsibility of each and every individual in our society to help the student community at their own level and capability. We, as responsible citizens of our society, should not be critics of these alternate and virtual methods of teaching, but rather encourage and help them. We all should fight collectively against the challenges faced by our academic scenario in the present lockdown situation.

About the author: The author teaches Geography at GDC, Kulgam. He can be reached at rather1294@gmail.com­

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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