Exigency of Kashmir Studies: An Analysis of the Curriculum of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir

by Saba Ghulam Nabi
Those nations, who forget their history and culture, are doomed to vanish. Preservation of history and culture as their identity is the core responsibility of the nations. The history of Kashmir dates back to ancient times. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has a rich, diverse culture, but the new generation of the state scarcely knows about its history, culture and other demographic realities. In all over the world the history and language of the any country is the basic component of the school’s curriculum and stands as a compulsory subject in their educational policy. But the case of the state of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir is quite unique, the state of AJ&K is liberated to fulfill many objectives among those objectives one was to preserve their culture and language. There are many factors responsible for this ignorance and fading out the rich cultural tradition, but most prominent of them is “non-existence of the history of Kashmir” in our educational system. As Jennifer A. Nielsen says “How do you destroy a Nation? You take away their culture. And how is that done? You must take their language, their history, their very identity. How would you do that?” “You ban their books.” As Education is the backbone in Nation-building, young generation can only recognize and preserve their history and culture when they learn about it. So, the curriculum of a nation must contain all the elements needed to not only preserve the cultural and historical heritage but also to keep the new generations aligned with their roots and history. Generally, the curriculum of Pakistani educational institutes has so many flaws in terms of contents and lacking the needs and necessities of a modern education system, but still, social studies and Pakistan studies comprises at least some amount of knowledge necessary for the awareness of history and culture. But the case of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is opposite. The history and any local language of AJ&K do not exist in then curriculum of AJK. And there is also no inclusion of socio-cultural dimensions of Kashmir at school or college level. This act has many negative consequences among those one is that, the youth of AJ&K is completely unacquainted from the history of Kashmir even they don’t have exact idea about Kashmir conflict, why it is started? Although it is an internationally recognized conflict. About 85% youth of AJ&K is not well aware about their social-cultural dimensions and administrative system .The youth of AJ&K is uninformed about the struggle and sacrifices of the freedom fighters of the Kashmir. Who is responsible for this act? It is such a big loss which also has an impact on freedom movement of Kashmir, how they can struggle for the thing which they even don’t know. The University of AJ&K was established in 1986 and it also has the Institute of Kashmir Studies started in 2008. The institute was supposed to make curriculum for the educational institutes and preserve the culture and history of Kashmir and create awareness on Kashmir conflict. The first session of this institute was started in 2008, many students took admission in it but after few sessions the strength of students for this institute got minimum because there is no job opportunity for this subject at SSC,HSSC and other levels, the students are getting disappointed by saying this there is no scope of Kashmir Studies. After some efforts the university offered Kashmir Studies in all programs of BS (social sciences) as a compulsory subject, but as this subject is not taught to students in SSC and HSSC levels so in graduation level it seems alien to them. Since its establishment in 2008, a number of student delegations from Kashmir studies visited PM and other policy makers to highlight the importance of the most important subject but they did not pay heed to this issue of national importance. The more interesting thing is that in all competitive Examinations of AJ&K like PSC, NTS etc, there is a portion for Kashmir studies but despite being a major part of competitive exams it is not included in the curriculum, this scenario also creates difficulties for the candidates as they haven’t studied Kashmir studies in their academic years. This unfortunate situation raises a lot of questions for the Govt and educational policy makers of AJ&K. It is high time for authorities and policy makers to think about this issue and make curriculum aligned with not only modern education but also with the culture and history of their own nation. Written by: Saba Ghulam Nabi

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir