Lesson of the Day: ‘Anxious and Cooped Up, 1.5 Million Kashmiri Children Are Still Out of School’

Lesson of the Day: ‘Anxious and Cooped Up, 1.5 Million Kashmiri Children Are Still Out of School’

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Featured Article: “Anxious and Cooped Up, 1.5 Million Kashmiri Children Are Still Out of School

After India revoked the autonomy of the Kashmir region in August, soldiers and militants have claimed the streets and most schools shuttered their doors indefinitely.

In this lesson, students will consider what their own life would be like without school, examine the impact of the current crisis on the lives of school-age children in Kashmir and choose a youth or image profiled in the article to write about.

Imagine you couldn’t go to school anymore.

Whether you love, hate or occasionally dread school, imagine that all of a sudden no children could attend school: How would this affect your life?

Take a few minutes to reflect on how life would be different: What would your first day, week or month be like? How would you try to adjust to life without the routine and community of school? How would you feel? What would you do? What would you miss the most?

Write a short journal entry describing what you imagine life without school would be like.

Background Information

Before you read the featured article, here is some relevant background information.

On Aug. 5, India’s Hindu nationalist government unilaterally revoked the autonomy of the Muslim-majority Kashmir region, a disputed territory fought over by India and Pakistan.

The Indian government imposed curfews, cut phone and internet service (which has since been partially restored), and detained over 2,000 people, including teachers, lawyers and journalists.

Three months later, most schools have been closed indefinitely.

Read the article, then answer the following questions

1. What has Aliya Khan, a fifth grader, been doing every morning since India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy thirteen weeks ago? Why do you think she does this despite her mother’s attempts to dissuade her? How does Aliya’s story illustrate the author’s claim that education stands as “one of the crisis’s most glaring casualties”?

2. How many schools have been closed in Kashmir? Why are many parents afraid to send their children to schools that remain open?

3. How have the school closures affected the lives of Kashmiri children — physically, socially and emotionally? Give three examples from the article.

4. What are some of the things Kashmiri students miss the most? Why are many “desperate” to get back to school, according to the article?

5. How are some teachers and educators, like Mufeed Ahmad Malik, trying to make sure the children are still learning even if they are not in school? Why does Mr. Malik fear that if schools don’t reopen soon, some children will “go down the wrong path”?

6. Why do Indian-backed officials in Kashmir blame parents for not sending their students to school? How persuasive is their argument? If you were a parent in Kashmir today, would you send your child to school?

7. What is your reaction to the article? How did your writing from the warm-up activity compare to the actual experiences of young people in Kashmir who can’t attend school? How does reading the article affect your view of your own schooling and your relationship to school?

Choose one or both of the following questions to respond to in writing.

1) The article features many children whose lives have been affected by school closures in the region, such as Mehak Javid Bhat, an 18-year-old, who was preparing for medical school when her high school shut down, or Reyan Sofi, a fourth grader, who recently told his father, “You should either burn my books and my uniform or send me to school.” Which student did you find most interesting or affecting? Which did you relate to most?

Select one student featured in the article and write about how you connect with his or her story. What can we learn from it?

2) Look at the photos featured in the article: What do you notice about them? What story do they tell about the current crisis in Kashmir and its impact on children? Which photo do you find most interesting, surprising or memorable?

Choose one image and write about how it illustrates the ways that children have been affected by the loss of school.