Jammu, July 26: Nomadic communities may appear to be living an idyllic and carefree life, but there are two sides of the same coin. These communities suffer numerous deprivations and lack the necessary facilities like primary education, which is the right of every child.
The low socio-economic development and their habitation in various ecological and geo-climatic conditions ranging from plains and forest to hills and inaccessible areas are the main reasons for the low literacy rate of these tribes.
However, the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory government has given new hope to nomadic children by introducing the concept of mobile schools and nurturing them under ‘Samagra Shiksha scheme’.
At a time, when educational institutions are close due to pandemic, and students are studying online, the mobile schools in J&K are giving new wings to nomadic children through community tutoring.
According to reports, the number of students identified for these ‘mobile schools’ from different districts is Kupwara (1080), Anantnag (1807), Bandera (589), Baramulla (1272), Budgam (2415), Doda (3126), Ganderbal (1412), Jammu (147), Kishtwar (2363), Kulgam (2193), Kupwara (1080), Poonch (7400), Pulwama (1675), Rajouri (1777), Rambam (950), Reasi (3422), Samba (26), Shopian (1821), Udhampur (29).
The children of Bakarwals and Gujjars are now looking forward towards brighter future horizons because they won’t have to choose between their traditional ways of living and education.
An alumnus of mobile schools, Sabar Ali, who has done his Engineering in Electronics and Communication and is now serving as Sub-Inspector in J&K Finance Department was among the students of the first batch of these mobile schools, who went in for professional studies.
He said earlier we only had one mobile school in the ‘Kabila’ (Tribe) and our teachers have worked hard to make us reach this level. Over the years, several students from these schools have achieved great success.
Ali said, “Mobile schools are playing a vital role in developing the standards of education in the nomadic community. These schools are the pillars in shaping the early years of nomadic children. The lessons that they get in these schools have a lasting impact on their lives because the teachers here put in their head and heart both to clear their basics concepts.”
“The teachers here in these schools belong to the same community, and they very well know the ways of living of nomadic people and their sufferings too, so they don’t leave any stone unturned to give them the very early lessons of their life,” he added.
He also added that no outsider would take so much pain in teaching these kids and survive with them so long, so the teachers are also from the same community or tribe. The teachers have a sound educational background and training for this critical job.
“Mobile schools function on the same pattern as any other urban or rural school, but of course we have a lack of infrastructure like them. We adjust our classes according to place and weather conditions, as we move onto one place to other during different seasons,” Umar Ali, a teacher of a mobile school in Sanasar, told NH1 news.
“There are around four to five mobile schools in Sanasar, we conduct exams timely as per the schedule, and our main thrust is providing basic education to nomadic children.” Umar Ali added.
Basharat Ali, a senior nomadic member of the tribe, said, “The first-ever tribal mobile school was established in 1971, but in the year 2002, the government of Jammu and Kashmir’s introduced Rehbar-e-Taleem policy and opened 71 new schools with the appointment of two teachers each. Later, even mobile schools were upgraded to middle schools because of their good results.”
“After completing initial studies in mobile schools, my son became an engineer, and we have many such examples. Our children are not only competing with the students of big cities but making us all proud by making their places in NIIT, JEE, KAS and other competitive exams”, he proudly said.
However, he pleaded to our government to improve the educational standards of the nomadic community; he said that the nomadic community had suffered many hardships due to militancy and the and urbanization. He finds that the future of nomadic tribes is in trouble and the next generation will not take up such difficulties.”