School’s out: Classes in Kashmir held in meadows amid closures

Educators in the disputed region are fighting to keep pupils on track amid repeated lockdowns, curfews and internet blackouts

Asmat Jan, 15, practises her singing in a meadow, against a backdrop of Kashmir’s towering mountains. In front of her, around 50 other children squat in perfect, straight lines. A couple of adults hover nearby.

Education has gone open-air across the valley in Indian-administered Kashmir and this is one of the many makeshift community classes that have sprung up in response to the repeated closure of schools under two separate lockdowns, alongside a communication blackout in this hotly disputed territory imposed in August last year. While political restrictions have eased a little in Kashmir since India revoked the region’s special status and degree of autonomy, a brief reopening of education in February lasted only until April’s Covid-19 lockdown brought classes to yet another grinding halt.

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