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Why College Students In Kashmir Often Take 4-5 Years To Complete Graduation

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College life is reckoned to be a colorful stage of life among the youth. Once a person crosses the higher secondary stage and enters college life, they are overwhelmed with joy as they find themselves as free as air, with all the restrictions slowly fading away. They find themselves out of the cage and try to take a high flight for which they have been aspiring since ages. But there is another side to this story also.

This stage is the most crucial stage in life and becomes a turning point in a person’s career. If we will look through the perspective of career building, this is the most important stage. It is a period in which a person can build their bright future, or else their future might get ruined because of negligence. We all are well-aware that these undergraduate courses form the base for high profile competitive examinations. If a person aspires to be a KAS or an IAS officer, he has to be much more cautious during this stage, and focus on his studies in this period of life.

Besides the hard work and attentiveness of students towards their career, citizens, authorities and State institutions have a duty towards the career-building of our young generation during their undergraduate courses. No doubt, students themselves form the base of this whole process, which revolves around them, but the process doesn’t stop with them. Many other stakeholders play a role in this process to brighten the career of our youth and, in turn, the overall development of nation as the young generation has great potential to change the future of a nation.

Besides the hard work and attentiveness of students towards their career, citizens, authorities and State institutions have a duty towards the career-building of our young generation during their undergraduate courses.

Parents and teachers, of course, play a pivotal role in the whole process. Parents have to be careful about their children, and their choices and ways of living. They always have to keep a keen eye on them and try to counsel them in whatever way possible. This is the period of change and challenges in their children’s life, so they need counselling every now and then during this stage.

After parents, teachers also have major responsibilities and duties towards the career-building of their students. It is a teacher who builds the nation. Besides teaching, they should always be ready to give a helping hand to their students and guide them through their experience. The concerned institutions can also play a significant role in the career-building of our future generation.

Colleges should have career counseling cells so that students can be guided well for their future. The course syllabus should be framed according to the latest trends and the need of the hour. Advanced and technical courses must be given adequate place in the college courses. Different kinds of programmes can be conducted in colleges to enlighten the students. Their regularity and punctuality should be made essential in colleges. To get better output from our colleges, their infrastructure, teacher-student ratio, and many such factors should be followed as per the UGC guidelines.

However, the Kashmir Valley provides a totally different view when we take a look at the above-mentioned institutions in the Valley. Keeping the role of parents and teachers aside, let’s here focus on the role of the colleges in the Valley in the career-building of our young generation. Of course, the University of Kashmir can’t be excluded from this discussion because almost all the colleges in the region are affiliated to the University and are run under its rules and regulations.

The infrastructure of most of the KU colleges is not well-developed. Due to lack of allotted funds, various laboratories of colleges lack adequate equipment. In some college departments, staff rooms and department laboratories function out of a single small room. As per the UGC norms, there should be one teacher for every 80 students in a college, but if we take a look at our KU-affiliated colleges, we may find one teacher for more than 100 students in many subjects. In some of these affiliated colleges, this number might go upto 150. One lab should occupy 35 students, according to the UGC norms, but in many colleges here, we have upto 80 students in a lab. This has an adverse affect the teaching-learning process for students.

Till five or six years ago, there used to be a system of annual examinations in our colleges, consisting of descriptive questions, and students were able to find adequate time throughout the year for studies. But then, the Kashmir University shifted its examination pattern to a semester system and proposed to conduct two semesters in a year for undergraduate classes.

But we all know the political and weather instability of our Valley. Because of multiple strike calls, bandhs, curfews, weather instability and many other likely conditions, the colleges now mostly remain closed. In case colleges manage to remain open, students fail to attend classes, and it becomes much difficult, rather impossible, for them  to complete their syllabus in time. In order to appear for a semester examination, a student needs six to seven months of continuous study. But here, in our Valley, our students don’t get even three months of study to prepare for their exam, adversely affecting their results and, in turn, their careers.

We all know that the admission procedure in colleges in the Valley has now become a slow and almost-continuous process. Students who pass their secondary school annual examination during December and January take admission in colleges in the months of March and April, and are supposed to appear for their first semester during July and August.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Barbara Walton, File

The irony is that students who pass their secondary school examination in backlog mode during April-May take admission in colleges during June-July for their first semester, by when students already admitted in colleges have completed 75-80% of the syllabus for their first semester exams. These newly admitted students are also expected to appear for the semester exams in July-August along with the rest. This means they only got one or two months to complete the their entire semester syllabus.

Till now, the concerned authorities have badly failed in conducting two semesters in a year because of the above-mentioned political and weather conditions. Thus, undergraduate courses, which were once a ‘three-year degree course’ are now completed in four or five years and have become time consuming.

Last year, I got stunned and felt sad when one of my students, after completing his graduation in four and a half years, put his Whatsapp status as “Friends, congratulate me. Finally I have completed my graduation after four and a half years.” Another student’s update on his Facebook account was “KU made me pappu, graduated after four years.”

Now, if we have a look at the regularity and punctuality of students in our colleges, we’ll find a sad story there as well. There are no strict rules for regularity of students in our colleges, and students are allowed to appear in examinations even if they have attended only one or two classes in the whole session. I have found many students in my college who complete their admission formalities, but then involve themselves in other activities like coaching for other competitive examinations like NEET, or pursue other courses through ITIs. They appear for college examinations without attending even a single class.

Some students even run shops throughout the session or work as a salesperson, and later come to college to appear for examinations. For such students, pursuing undergraduate courses in colleges is a secondary activity, while their entire focus is on other things during the whole year. At the end, our college result comes out to be very poor, and we only get weak pass outs with zero quality.

Besides the above-mentioned issues, there are many other things that need the attention of the concerned authorities. Our colleges are giving us just poorly-educated graduates. The above-mentioned factors have a very poor effect on the career of our young generation, and the future of our nation seems to be very dark. These loopholes need acute attention of concerned authorities. Strict rules should be framed regarding the regularity and punctuality of students in colleges.

Admission formalities should be completed in a limited period of time. A well-planned academic calendar for undergraduate classes should be framed and strictly followed in letter and spirit. Colleges should be allotted adequate funds by concerned departments so that they can also have good infrastructure and laboratories with well-equipped instruments just like other parts of the country.

It is high time that the UT government redress the grievances and problems faced by colleges so that academic activities can be performed smoothly and efficiently. It is colleges that can give us productive youths and where our future officials are made. So, they need much more attention from concerned higher authorities. The Kashmir University also plays an important part in the whole process. They should rectify the loopholes in their system and the curricular framework they have framed for undergraduate courses.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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