Not only their schooling, the continuing unrest is taking a heavy toll on the psychology of the children.
It is early morning and Hamid, a little lad, in his home in down town Srinagar, quickly sips his tea, wears a black shirt, half pants and shapes his hair into a spiky style, not to go to school but to play with his play-station. His black Sony Play Station has better graphics with more ‘realistic’ violence and gore in the games.
“He used to have very little time to play with his play station on normal days,” says his mother, Tehmeena. “Now that the schools are closed and no way to go for tuitions due to the curfew, he spends most of the time playing video games. This has created a negative impact on his academic performance.”
The favourite game of the nine-year-old Hamid is “Soldier of Fortune”, in which he has the option to kill each character.
The kid lives near the Islamia School, Rajouri Kadal. He describes the main road of his home and school as a scene of chaos, panic and destruction.
Schoolchildren are no strangers to overall situation simmering with protests, killings and stone-pelting from their neighbourhoods.
They too are bearing the brunt of growing up with conflict.
Teachers also say that living in a conflict zone affects the academic performance of school children.
Zehra Rashid, a resident of Aali Kadal and a class 8th student, is busy these days reading comics, story books and poems, apart from her school books. She reads in R P School, Lal Bazar which like the rest of the schools has remained shut due to curfews and strikes.
“I spend five hours a day in studying. My elder brother teaches me these days as I can’t go for tuitions. Rest of the time I keep myself busy with my favourite past-time activities,” says Zehra with a shy smile.
Zehra is fond of art. She draws paintings. Her paintings reflect her feelings of hope, happiness and fears. However, one of her latest paintings in her art book depicts young girls with open hair gazing through the windows as police chasing them and pointing their guns at them. In the second page, the women are lying in a pool of blood, and men and women wailing.
In another picture she has drawn Omar Abdullah with a cross-marked face.
Zehra’s mother says, “She was disturbed when a young girl died in Batamalloo after being shot.” Zehra says, “Whenever I am in a mood to draw something, I try to recollect things. And these days we watch lot of TV news.”
Most of the parents complain that when their children don’t go to schools or tuitions due to regular clampdown, it defocuses them and leaves their children disinterested in studies.
“Whenever things get back to normal routine, it gets very difficult to put them back to their routine,” said a parent.
Tamjeed Bhat, a teacher with Budshah Public School in old city said that the worst part of the closure of schools is that the regular class tests have been affected to a greater extent, especially the third unit test.
“Whenever students come to school after long gap, they have laidback attitude towards the studies,” she said. “Due to so much loss of time, we can’t even ask for more class tests. The parents too pressurize us, apart from school authorities, for quick completion of syllabus.”
Director Education, Shagufta Parveen, said that the current situation is affecting the education system in Kashmir but the authorities are all set to compensate the losses through additional classes.
“Without any curtailment of syllabi and postponing the exams, we are ready to gear up with the system through zero classes even on sundays or other holidays,” she said.
Manager, Delhi Public School, Damoder Singh is of the view that the current unrest has jolted the future of Kashmir, as children are the most fragile and are adversely affected.
“We have made a proposal for extra time and extra classes whenever situation turns normal,” he says. “At least the authorities should have made an attempt in a possible way that the education system doesn’t get hampered. We fear that if peace is not restored soon, we will have to change whole academic calendar which will badly hit children as well as the authorities.”