Infrastructure Challenges Plague Seasonal Schools in the Upper Himalayas

Seasonal Teachers Demand Better Wages, Working Conditions

Seasonal Teachers Demand Better Wages, Working Conditions

Suhail Rather

Bandipora, July 09 (KNS): Every May, the seasonal migration of Gujjars and Bakarwals begins in Kashmir Valley, as they move with their livestock to the upper Himalayas. Accompanying them are seasonal teachers, dedicated to educating children in the difficult terrain of dense forests and high peaks.

Students have expressed that, while the government has provided some facilities for teachers, it is insufficient for the harsh conditions they face. During heavy rains, the tents often get washed away. They urge the government to provide essential facilities like boards and waterproof tents to ensure their education is not disrupted. "We hope the government will consider our needs and provide us basic facilities," said Auregzab, a student from Rajouri.

Educators operating makeshift schools in tents face significant risks, exacerbated by climate change. Frequent cloud bursts, heavy rainfall, and increased animal attacks in the Himalayas pose dangers that often damage the students' belongings, such as books and school bags.

Gujjars and Bakarwals make up nearly 12% of Jammu and Kashmir's population, forming the third-largest ethnic community in the Union Territory. Education was a distant dream for them until the Jammu and Kashmir government established seasonal education centers under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan in 2003.Click Here To Follow Our WhatsApp Channel

Despite their dedication, seasonal teachers face significant challenges. "We stay with these students 24/7 during the migration, yet the government pays us less than laborers. We work on a temporary basis for six months and remain unemployed for the rest of the year, with no regularization policy in place," said one teacher. Another teacher from Rajouri echoed these sentiments, stating that despite raising their demands repeatedly, no positive action has been taken by the government.

Chief Education Officer Bandipora, G.M. Pujju, affirmed the government's commitment to provide basic education to these marginalized communities. He noted that an assessment by the education department received positive feedback from students. "This year, 51 volunteer teachers have been hired to educate 581 students in these mobile schools," he added.

Despite these efforts, the seasonal teachers and students continue to call for better facilities and support, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced in the upper reaches of the Himalayas.(KNS) 

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