In Pictures: Kashmir’s community schools for children in remote areas

In Pictures: Kashmir’s community schools for children in remote areas Students studying in an open air community schooling system in Kashmir. (Photo credit: Ishfaq Bashir)
Aeshwarya Tiwari | Jul 21, 2020 - 2:27 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Among the trees, on a sun-lit patch of grass, over two dozen students sit cross-legged, their books open before them, resting on their school bags. In front of them, a teacher leans on a portable whiteboard.

On July 9, the central government’s policy think-tank, NITI Aayog, shared this image of an open-air “community school” from Baramulla, Kashmir, on its social media account. The post added that around 30,000 children were attending such schools in the district.

Asgar Hassan Samoon(Source: Twitter/ Asgar Hassan Samoon)

Since the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in the closure of schools, nearly all states have embraced online classes as the alternative. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir did too, launching the ‘Aawo Padhen’ mission to ensure continuity of learning online.


However, there are thousands of children without access to devices or the internet, necessary for learning online. Plus, Kashmir has been allowed only 2G internet service. In some areas, families lack even a radio or a television set.


To circumvent these problems, the education office of Baramulla started volunteer-driven community schools where a volunteer teacher starts running one outdoors while adhering to all the safety norms in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.


The directorate of school education, Kashmir, has endorsed the community schooling system with the help of local Auqaf Committees and Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) for areas where students don’t have internet, television, radio, or any other devices to study. According to All India Radio, a public broadcaster, 26 schools in the Baramulla district have been chosen on a pilot basis for community trial schools.


“DCs/ directors of school education permit “community classes” on a voluntary basis for kids with no access to TV/radio, internet and smartphones in “green areas with anticovid19 protocols like face masks, social distancing; sanitizer and soap under close supervision of parents!” tweeted Asgar Hassan Samoon, principal secretary, school education and skill development.

In the Community Schooling System, a teacher in a particular area establishes a community level school and all the students in that particular village or mohalla will get the academic as well as psychological help from the teacher.


According to the AIR report, the teaching spots are chosen on the basis of their accessibility, feasibility, and suitability for learning.


(All images courtesy Ishfaq Bashir, Directorate of School Education, Kashmir)

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