Three months of winter vacations with the associated jetlag in March is a rhythm-breaker and sums up the scene for an incurable mediocrity in the long run.
Winter, or rather our inability to deal with it, is our biggest Achilles heel. Winter is not a torment hurled exclusively at us. Almost 9 out of ten top economies in the world have harsher or at least similar winters as compared to what we have to endure. To coop-up ourselves, lifelessly snuggled up with the warmth of Kangri underneath our pherans or hamams beneath us, is the worst way to deal with the cold season. It is an abject surrender to winter.
Winter vacation must be altogether done away with. Making our children tough is our responsibility. Learn from Japan. We must teach our children to light up fires themselves in schools. Teach them how to survive in the cold. Teach them life skills, financial education, coding, share market, financial education, pitching tents, angling and other non-regular subjects at schools during winters.
We have had winter vacations all along these decades. We have produced two million odd graduates out of which 4 lakh souls got into government jobs, remaining went to the Gulf. A good majority in the blue collared workforce.
How many entrepreneurs did we produce? How many employment providers? How many with knowledge of wealth generation?
I think going into a self-imposed shell in winters is one of the prime reasons for our weakness and lackness. We need to get over it and get over it soon. We are producing men of straw in an era when we had to produce men of steel. Doing away with winter vacation at least from 8th standard onwards can work wonders for our youth. They would become tough men knowing their ability to negotiate adversely difficult situations. There are schools in Russia which remain open in minus 45-degree Celsius temperatures and similar countless examples.There are vested interests also who push for early winter vacations. People with relatives, friends, villas, flats in Dubai, Sharjah, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. People with connections, money, reach, foreign relatives with just one weak link – a few female relatives working as government teachers. They spawn a media campaign that kids are suffering due to the cold. Soon this spread on social media networks and people began to empathize with helpless children.
These high-heeled charlatans would go to any extent to have their winter saga extended to four months. Whenever administration has tried to curtail a few weeks from the winter vacations this cabal uses its implants in different media organisations to raise a pandemonium about cold related problems.
Our children never become informed tough citizens because a few well-heeled families need to leave for Dubai in winters. This saga has been going on for too long. I think all teachers should be given training vocational courses as well and make it mandatory upon them to teach students at least three days during winters. Letting them leave the valley lock, stock and barrel during winters is the biggest loss of the most critical part of the student’s academic year. Winter attendance in person should be made mandatory for all teachers.
I still cannot understand the logic of how a 16 or a 17-year-old young man (I am not calling him a boy on purpose) queue up outside a private coaching centre at 6.30 on a December or January morning, but at noon feels the inside of his school’s campus likewise of a concentration camp in mid-November.
If frozen school infrastructure is a tossing argument here, then we should ensure that some hard-earned money of taxpayers should warm up the campus. We can make it happen with a collective will, if only we can rise above the griping nature.
Because let’s face it, these young men would be eighteen in a year or two which entails that they would be staring at a lifeless corpse in the first year of their medical college next year or would be made to dive in ice-cold waters of a stinking pond as part of military training in some military school. In another three years’ time they would be interning at our hospitals or at the frontline of war ready to put their life on the line.
Are we to believe they are pusillanimous enough not to endure the cold of winters crammed up by scores in a closed classroom for a few hours a day? We do not have an exclusive copyright to winter. Three months of winter vacations with the associated jetlag in March is a rhythm-breaker and sums up the scene for an incurable mediocrity in the long run.
This comfort zone which we effectively spawn in our young men never leaves them and they seek this in their first job, in the responsibility of marriage, in the disdain for collective social responsibility once they become achievers and in general in every aspect of life.The need for a winter vacation is a lie we have told ourselves some seventy-odd years ago. It is emblematic of our unsatiated need for a comfortable life. I would honestly prefer an extended summer vacation than a winter vacation. Extreme heat is alien to us, not cold. We’re from a cold region. People in the cold region endure the cold better as much as people in the desert can endure heat better.
As a kid whose parents have never been to school even for a single day of their lives, I understand the harm an extended winter vacation does to a student who cannot afford private tuition in winters. It gives a due and definite edge to a student who is moneyed enough to afford private tuition. Plus, kid who goes out to different cities of sub-continent and gulf during winters lends him a progressive outlook as compared to those who cannot.
This is why the job of a government teacher remains a priority now only because of the lure of winter vacations. It is a gala time with moneyed relatives in the gulf, on Indian beaches, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
The need for winter vacation is a deadly deception we have repeatedly fallen for. So much so that it has now sadly become the reality now.
Jamsheed Rasool is a senior journalist based in Srinagar.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Free Press Kashmir. Feedback and counter-views are welcome at [email protected].