"We were looking at distractions and one of the distractions we found was coaching centres". Students have repeatedly been protesting on streets and clashing with government forces, the latest cause being the rape and murder of a Gujjar minor girl in Jammu region's Kathua district.
"There are also apprehensions that some teachers are provoking the students to stage protests or they may be themselves indulging in these activities which have derailed the education system". "We have decided that these centres would remain closed for next 90 days".
The decision to close down the private coaching institutes teaching students up to class XII was taken by state Education Minister Syed Altaf Bukhari after a meeting with the heads of government educational institutes.
Bukhari said the order would have no bearing on centres that provide coaching for professional courses for students who have already cleared Class XII.
Perplexed by the protests, Bukhari on Saturday had warned the students to return to classes or else the government will be constrained to shut educational institutions permanently in the valley.
Similar reports of protests and clashes were received from Baramulla and Sopore where students of higher secondary schools staged demonstrations and clashed with forces.
J&K government's minister for Youth Services and Sports, Information Technology and Technical Education, Imran Reza Ansari also urged students to go back to classrooms. "We should see who are we pelting on", said Bukhari.
Conservative estimates suggest that at least 50,000 students in Kashmir attend coaching centers and an average of Rs 50,000 is paid by the families of these students, bringing the total amount spent to about Rs 250 crores. "We are ready for regulations and will resume work from Tuesday", said G.N. Var, a member. The estimated amount of Rs 250 crores doesn't come from the government, but is paid by the parents who are willing to invest for education of their children.
In the recent past, the biggest casualty suffered by the education sector in Kashmir was after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani. Four students received injuries in Baramulla.
Emphasizing the need for student counseling, the Minister said as academicians it is important to ensure the safety and better future of students. However, curfews are not at all uncommon in the valley - taking place every two months - affecting the education of thousands of students.