The Department of School Education Kashmir’s recent directive on guest reception in public schools reflects empathy, sensitivity and a progressive thinking. It is so unfortunate that, in the name of VIP receptions, for decades, school children in Kashmir, in both public and private schools, have often been engaged programs and activities that did not resonate empathy, dignity and sensitivity to young students’ feelings of self esteem.
This latest directive, barring schools from engaging children in these pointless spectacles, is significant for a number of reasons. First, it seeks to be more sensitive to time and mental and emotional wellbeing of students. Second, it discourages the use of non-biodegradable materials and excessive spending on needless hospitality, which could serve to promote environmental sustainability practices in J&K’s schools. Third, it promotes a more respectful and non-discriminatory environment for both students and guests. In today’s modern world there is no point to organise extravagant receptions to public officials in schools during their visits, which are purely a matter of routine, work mandate and imperatives of tax payer accountability. That is how modern democracies approach such matters.
The directive’s emphasis on not disrupting academic hours and students’ mental and emotional health is crucial. Making standing stand in queues for extended periods in Ksshmir’s schools at the time of VIP or guest visits often lead to untold physical discomfort, fatigue, and a lack of concentration during classes. By addressing this issue, the School Education Department is recognizing the importance of providing students of public schools in Kashmir a more dignified and conducive learning environment.
Moreover, the mention of non-biodegradable materials in floral bouquets and garlands addresses a broader environmental concern. It is a thoughtful way to help reduce waste and promote eco-friendly practices. By advocating for the use of natural flowers and responsible disposal, the directive sets an example for sustainable practices within educational institutions. The circular’s acknowledgment that excessive expenses on hospitality and catering arrangements don’t benefit the school environment should have come much earlier in time. J&K’s public schools often operate with limited budgets, and unnecessary spending on such events often divert resources away from essential educational and administrative needs. This move can help schools to embrace financial prudence and more responsible resource usage. Prolonged disruptions, caused by lengthy reception processes, often hinder students’ ability to focus on their studies and grow up in a dignified and confident manner. That, in turn, could affect their productivity and self esteem. This order recognizes these potential negative outcomes, and, therefore, it needs to be implemented in letter and spirit by both public and private schools.