Primary Shrinking, Secondary Struggles: The Issues Facing Government Schools in Ladakh

While the whole country is buzzing about the success stories and school performance in the recent CBSE results, the Union Territory of Ladakh is experiencing the worst board exam performance, and no one is ready to talk about it. The recent haphazard switch from JKBOSE to CBSE, the centralized packaging syllabus, the abstract concepts, the language challenges, and the session examination session have all been suddenly imposed on the schooling system of Ladakh without considering the region’s specific and contextual needs.

For the first time in the history of Ladakh, government schools are shrinking rather than growing. A recent report informs us that 116 government schools in Ladakh are permanently closed due to zero enrollment and number of tiny schools are identified to close due to low enrollment. Additionally, the latest CBSE results for classes 10th and 12th have dealt another blow to the education system of Ladakh, with a pass percentage of 53.08% for Class 10th and 41.59% for Class 12th. The results for the Kargil district have further deteriorated, with only 45.2% of students passing Class 10th compared to 88.82% in 2022. In contrast, the pass percentage in the Leh district is 72.13%. The higher secondary level results are even more disheartening, with pass percentages of only 35.32% in Kargil and 56.47% in Leh, respectively.

Whom to Blame?

The poor performance of students is raising various potential questions regarding the recent developments implemented by the state and the Department of School Education in Ladakh. The first and foremost concern is the board change, which was done without proper consideration and analysis of its impact. Switching the board without consulting stakeholders was an arbitrary move. Are the officials of the Department of School Education confident that their teachers are capable enough to teach the NCERT books? How many pedagogy teachers do they have to cater to the needs of the student community? How many trained teachers do they have, based on which they were confident to switch the board to CBSE in such a haphazard manner? How is the summer examination session favorable for Ladakh when the temperature dips to minus 40 degrees in winter? Are the directors and CEOs not aware of the topographical challenges? What additional resources has the education department provided to schools to improve the reading and writing abilities of students?

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The teacher community has the least to do with this process; many teachers at the school and higher secondary levels lack formal teacher training. Thus, it is not the teacher community alone but the entire education system that has collapsed. Ninety per cent of schools in Ladakh are owned and maintained by the government, but the remaining 10% of private schools have more enrollment than the 90% of government schools. Schools in villages are deserted as government schools have failed to maintain the community’s trust, and now private schools are seen as symbols of pride and success. This is where the foundation of government schools in Ladakh has crumbled and fractured. Without improving the condition of schools at the primary level and recruiting trained pedagogy teachers, this performance crisis will intensify in the future.

The Menace of Academic Arrangement

In recent years, the trend of academic arrangements or temporary recruitment has been promoted and adopted by the Department of School Education at both primary and secondary levels. This is a potential factor in degrading the quality of education. Merely supplying human resources to schools does not indicate that the state is concerned about the quality of education. Instead, it is a tactic to avoid the responsibility of recruiting permanent teachers and holding them accountable for the resulting outcomes. Teachers recruited on a temporary basis cannot be held accountable for poor performance because they have no job security and can be discharged at any time. The prevalence of academic arrangements at the school level is truly unfortunate and an injustice to both qualified youth and school children. Ladakh may be one of the few Union Territories that recruits schoolteachers on a temporary basis. This practice dilutes the credibility of the teaching profession and potentially impacts the quality and outcomes of education. The stakeholders should need to voice against this arbitrary process of recruitment, if they really concern about the future of their children particularly in government schools.

The Examination Session:

The administration needs to understand that the topography of Ladakh is not suitable for conducting exams in February and March. These months were designated by policymakers based on the climate conditions of the plains of India, not the harsh geographical regions like Ladakh. During the 10th class board exams in February, many videos went viral showing children forced to sit for exams in tough conditions with snow accumulating around 1 to 3 feet. It is unjustifiable to make children take exams in such freezing weather and write their papers for three long hours. The psychological and mental hardships they face are not considered by the administration. Moreover, keeping children in hostels forcefully just to prepare for exams was another illogical and insensitive move. It seems the administration was trying to justify their arbitrary decisions by putting children through these hardships throughout the winter season. Such moves will potentially threaten the mental health of the students. During exams, children need moral support from their parents, siblings, and elders, not to be placed in any authoritative situation that adds more mental pressure on them.Bottom of Form

Role of Stakeholders:

The administration needs to revisit its decision to switch the board from JKBOSE to CBSE. They need to assess their human and material resources. If the administration continues with this decision, they should present a complete blueprint detailing how they plan to improve the conditions of government schools. They need to organize workshops and brainstorming sessions with the community and VECs regarding the performance under the CBSE board and collaborate with the community to improve the situation.

Parents and community members need to voice their concerns against the arbitrary decision made by the state regarding school education, particularly on issues related to language, textbooks, examination schedules, and academic arrangements.

The teachers’ community needs to come forward to raise their concerns, especially regarding the high number of students failing to qualify for the examinations. They should share their experiences about the changes before and after switching the board and highlight the challenges students are facing in the classroom. These concerns can be shared through journals, social media platforms, school publications, regional newspapers, and other potential mediums.

This is the first board exam under CBSE, and all the stakeholders are not so fond of the results. Together, we can build a strong school system where the future of Ladakh will flourish and thrive.


  1. The policymakers, especially the DSE, are responsible for this mess. They didn’t even consider that suddenly changing the board or curriculum for children wouldn’t be as easy as changing their letterhead’s address. They casually announced that they would now follow the CBSE curriculum without thinking about the implications.This new curriculum should have been implemented or adopted only at the primary level first, rather than directly at the secondary and higher secondary level. The existing board should have also been allowed to continue for a few years, as some private schools are still operating under the JKBOSE curriculum. But no.
    Their thoughtless move has likely dealt a blow to the self-esteem and confidence of so many children at such a crucial stage in their lives, a repercussion only they can truly understand. These guys should just resign and held down their heads in shame forever for the dent they have put on the self-esteem and confidence of a generation.

  2. It was a good article regarding recent results of CBSE of class 10th & 12th of Ladakh region.I think all stakeholders should raise these issues with district administration as CBSE.

  3. This is not the fault of principals only this is the failure of UT administration Ladakh, in my view every student is qualified, UT administration are failed to understand and provide the quality education that what CBSC institutions wants, and what they are providing , it is an request to Ladakh Lg to intervene on this matter either pass all students or give some relaxation for this times because this unprecedented result shocked whole Ladakh and disappointed, this unprepared shifting of JK board to CBSC board brings serious consequences that we had seen , this is not the fault of students, UT administration prepare for mock or semester wise test in order to adapt in this new board environment….plz all students take this issue to Lg Ladakh

  4. It is not about switching from JKBOSE to CBSE , in reality it is the transition of exam system from with cheats to without cheats, due to introduction of CBSE the cheating system of 10th and 12th decreases upto 80% which makes the results worsed as compared to previous years.

  5. Our village Skurbuchans result was 82% in 10th and 94% in 12th. Our parents took turn to cook for students this way students get to meet their parents. It uttar collective work of students,teachers and parents that result in success. You cannot blame the administration all the time. Our govt. schools are being closed because the parents intervention is zero and they blame the teachers for poor result. They admit their children in private schools and send them for tutions and think that private schools do miracle. And also at the end we demand that we should get employment. Every school has more than 10 staffs we are responsible for its closure and we demand employment. I do agree that there was a shift but not sudden. I have seen that to prepare the students mentally they were being told about CBSE exams since 3 years. I am a student and now I think it’s better to get minimum marks in CBSE and know where we stand and where we need to work hard to improve ourselves rather than getting good marks in JKBOSE and act as a knowledgeable person that will bring hardship in future. Atleast now we know we Ladakhis need to work more on languages in order to score good grades nit only in 10th or 12th but in college and university also.

  6. This is the bitter truth of our educational design and no authority is ready to take the responsibility and accountability… every one is playing the blame game…

  7. I belong to a border area and have worked as a mess provider to school for a year and personally I have seen that the school authorities negligence is the root cause as they cause hindrance in potential teachers to use the optimal performance by creating many extra curricular activities and engaging the students with extra functions to attract media attention, school is a place for students to get knowledge not a place for the administration to attract media attention and get promotion, awards or appraisal. Change in board or contractual is not a major problem unless the Admin is in the right track.


    Excellent and appreciable. It is fact not only in LADAKH but also 75% of the country. Education is divine but it is commercialized & politicized. Revolution must happen in the education system all over country like green , white , yellow etc., revolutions.

  9. The primary and only reason is the unwanted 3 month long winter holiday…which is totally baseless and useless…
    Student anyhow goos out to tution center and study while teacher goes to Goa

  10. A sudden shift from JKBOSE TO CBSE was a big challenge for our students and our students accepted the challenge despite a harsh climatic condition.It is first time in ladakh that during winter session, all the school keep remain open providing hostel facilities to face the challenge6and to some extent we achieve our target not better but not so worst.I really thankful to higher authourities of Education department to set up a new Era in the system of education.Hoping a better result in near future.

  11. Thank you, @Basheer Ahmed sir.

    Pre-primary and primary:
    It is very unfortunate for us that we are unable to strengthen our education system despite having a small population. Our vision must be to achieve a 100% literacy rate in Ladakh, and we can set an example for the country by providing quality education. This is possible because, literally, we have a very small population that is easy to manage. The only need is vision and intention. I request all the youth to please come forward and let’s build Ladakh’s future by making reforms from the pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels. The recent CBSE results are a great sign for us to navigate in a better direction. Our leaders and the Ladakh administration must discuss with the CBSE board for separate timelines for the Ladakh education policy, considering Ladakh’s unique environmental and seasonal changes.

    We must conduct a survey annually in every village of Ladakh so that not a single one of us misses out on education, irrespective of the cause. For our remote areas in Ladakh, we must provide free education and well-trained staff.

    Regarding higher studies, my experience as a student at Ladakh University:
    Last year, I graduated with an MSc in Botany from Ladakh University. During the course, I faced a lot of hardships and struggles such as:

    – There are no well-equipped laboratories and no well-trained faculty to manage the necessary practical work.
    – The admission examination fee is very costly. When we asked about the high cost, they referred to the fee structures of Delhi University or Punjab University. When we spoke about inadequate laboratories, they justified it by saying the university is newly established and lacks funding the are unable to justify why Ladakh University’s Laboratories is not like Delhi University or Punjab University. In both situations, students ultimately suffer, and I was one of them. During the course, I never experienced the competitive environment outside Ladakh, which is essential for preparation. I was not prepared for that competition. After two years of preparing for competitive examinations and experiencing the environment outside Ladakh, I now understand what I missed in my past, and how important it is to be aware and clear about one’s vision and future dilemmas.
    – There is no clear vision because universities nowadays seem like factories that only give degree certificates. It doesn’t matter to them what students do after completing their Master’s in Arts or Master’s in Science, as there is no placement concept.
    – The biggest issue with our Ladakh students is the lack of awareness, exposure, counseling, and vision. Educated youth of Ladakh who have experienced the competition outside Ladakh and the environment of knowledge must come forward to raise awareness among our younger generations. We need to give students a proper idea of why actual study and education are necessary. This type of counseling is essential.

    That is all I have to say briefly regarding the current higher education system.

    We must come forward to build and reform Ladakh’s education system.

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