Students in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Valley, are in a dilemma as authorities have decided to go ahead with annual examinations for various classes according to schedule but almost half of the syllabus is yet to be completed due to the closure of schools post August 5.
The school administrations have also charged fees from the students for these non-working months, parents allege.
Now, the authorities have announced the schedule for the annual examinations without any relaxation in syllabus, they say.
Parents as well as students are wary that if the examinations are conducted on schedule without any reduction in the syllabus, the students may not secure good marks, but if the annual examinations are not conducted, a precious year would be lost.
Students say they are distressed by the prevailing circumstances and they have studied only around half of the prescribed syllabus.
"We have been inside our homes since August 5. There has been no classes and studying in the prevailing atmosphere has been very difficult. How can we prepare for the examinations," asks Nyla, a student of class 12 at a private school here.
She says private tuition has also been affected in the valley due to the restrictions and shutdown.
Students from government-run schools also have the same tale to tell. While the government announced gradual re-opening of schools across the valley and the teachers attended to their duties, the students stayed away.
"We could not go to our schools. Our parents cannot afford private tuition. We have not covered our entire syllabus, so how can we be prepared for the annual examinations," says Musaib, a government school student studying in class 10.
The students want examinations to be deferred or at least some reduction in the syllabus so that question papers be set accordingly.
"The government should defer the examinations or should at least reduce the syllabus and then set the question papers according to the reduced syllabus. That will reduce our burden a bit," says Nyla.
On August 5, the government revoked Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Parents are also worried about the safety of their wards.
"They have not completed the syllabus, there have been no classes for the second semester. The atmosphere is not good for private tuition and learning. How will they appear the examinations? How will they fare?
"In today's world of cut-throat competition, merely passing is not an option, the students have to secure very good marks. All this is adding to the pressure their minds already have," says Javed Ahmad, father of a class 12 student.
Most of the private schools ask the students to collect assignments, in flash drives, from the schools in the absence of any classes.
Several schools -- including government-run -- conducted home examinations of the students in the lower classes due to the prevailing situation.
Ahmad claims the government was using the students as a "cannon fodder" to show a semblance of normalcy in Kashmir.
"By conducting the examinations, the government wants to show that everything is hunky-dory in Kashmir, which it is not. They are using the students as a cannon-fodder to enforce normalcy here. How can our kids go to the examination centres in the prevalent circumstances? Who will ensure their safety? The government should first ensure the situation to get normal and then conduct the exams," he says.
"The students are caught between devil and the deep sea. They do not want to lose the year, but they are also concerned about faring well in the examinations," Ahmad says.
Officials in the Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) say the governor's administration is uncompromising on both holding examinations according to schedule and not providing any reduction in the syllabus.