Life along the LoC: Cross-border shelling a constant with exam preparation for students

"I want to be a doctor and I am sure I will crack the entrance examination," says Mubashir, a Class 11 student at the Army Goodwill School, Chandigam, in Jammu and Kashmir's Lolab Valley, located just kilometres away from the Line of Control

Oct 21, 2020
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"I want to be a doctor and I am sure I will crack the entrance examination," says Mubashir, a Class 11 student at the Army Goodwill School, Chandigam, in Jammu and Kashmir's Lolab Valley, located just kilometres away from the Line of Control.

Studies and continuous cross-border shelling are the only constants in the life of Mubashir and his fellow students, who live, play and study amid incessant firing from the Pakistan side. A year after India scrapped special status of Jammu and Kashmir turning them into centrally-administered areas, the cross-border firing has doubled, making normal life even more difficult.

At 12 years, the students know as much different kinds of ordnance as about Pythagoras theorem.

However, all 697 students -- 472 boys and 225 girls -- of the school want to achieve big in their lives. Sahil of Class 9 aspires to get into the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). "I want to clear the IAS examination," he said.

School Principal Zahida Maqbool Shah said that the school was established in 2000 under the Army's Sadbhavna programme, subsequently upgraded to Class 12 and recognised by Jammu and Kashmir Board of Education in 2015-16.

It is very popular for its well-structured syllabus, teaching methods and infrastructure, including a computer laboratory, and a science laboratory and Hindi classes for all round development of children of Lolab Valley.

"In our school, students come from far-away areas. Some even travel 20 km every day to come to school," she said, adding her students come from areas like Sogam, Wowura, Krusan, Khumriyal and Kupwara and the school also runs buses to facilitate students from distant locations.

Fees charged from students are nominal with respect to the quality of education provided to the students. As the motive behind running the school is "Awam ki Tarakki (Development of the People)", so the fee structure is reasonable, Shah said.

The Principal also said that students from her school are doing well. "Indresh Ahmad from our school is working in Bollywood. Similarly, Saqib Farooq Lone is doing his Doctor of Philosophy from IIT Kharagpur," she said.

The school is one of the 28 Army Goodwill Schools set up by the Indian Army in Kashmir Valley, including terror hotbeds.

Currently, 6,025 boys and 3,501 girls are studying in army schools across the Valley, which has ben facing militancy for the last three decades.

These schools also cater to students from families who are victims of militancy as well as the local population.

The first school was established at Pahalgam and now has a boarding facility.

These schools are being administered by the Army's 15 Corps, which has responsibility for guarding the Line of Control and counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations in the Kashmir Valley.

Talking about the schools, 15 Corps Commander, Lt Gen B.S. Raju said: "The ultimate aim of Army is not only to eliminate terrorism but to win hearts and minds of people and regain trust of people."
(IANS)

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