In a meeting held in Kargil on the 26th Feb it was decided that due to unfavourable weather conditions, and in particular the continued threat of avalanche in certain areas, the winter schools vacation for both government and private schools has been extended to the 10th March. The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of CEC LAHDC Kachoo Ahmad Ali Khan. Steps were also taken to ensure that once schooling commences on the 11th March teachers are at their designated place of work.
This latter detail is of particular relevance in Zanskar where even Ladakhi/Zanskari teachers assigned to outlying villages routinely leave their posting for extended periods of term whilst continuing to draw their salary. It is not unusual for teaching responsibilities to be handed to one of the elder students during these periods of absence. One of the solutions to this persistent problem is to recruit teachers from the village in which they will teach, thus the incentive to leave for family commitments is removed. Of course this is a little chicken and egg as consistent education at the village level is required for the children of the needy villages to progress into teaching careers.
A cold snap accompanied with heavy snow has hit J&K State, including Zanskar and Leh. Farmers in the area will be very happy, but reports from Leh document the displeasure at having to clear snow from flat roofs, the spiralling prices of firewood kerosene and fresh vegetables, and the unreliable supply of drinking water and (hydro) electricity. I am sure if I was living in Leh I would also be complaining, however, it is interesting to note how quickly people's perceptions and expectations change. The situation in Leh reads like a normal day for most Zanskaris in winter, and it wasn't long ago that it was also normal for the inhabitants of Leh. Expectations have been quicker and easier to change than the capacity of the infrastructure to deliver. Of course this somewhat universal observation is not restricted to Leh and its inhabitants, I was only grumbling earlier this evening that my internet connection was not as fast as it should be (again). Yet in the case of Ladakh the rate of change has been rapid, and the baseline of what is and isn't considered acceptable has certainly kept pace. Leh is seen as a yard-stick by many Zanskaris, the 'bright lights and big city' is something to aspire to. And whilst the Zanskaris would probably laugh at the current 'discomfort' in Leh, they mustn't forget that they too have set a course for that future.