TODAY -

Against the rhetoric of quality education

Mirel Khuman *

Students appearing for Class X and XII Exam at Bamon Leikai, Imphal :: 4 March 2013
Students appearing for Class X and XII Exam at Bamon Leikai in March 2013 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam



We often talk about quality education and it has been like a fashion for the ministers, bureaucrats, civil bodies and student organizations. They speak about quality education in a particular fashion as well, hence the rhetorical significance of their involvement that surely serve their vested interests. The reality however is quite the opposite of their fashionable claims.

The sordid details of how to demolish 'education' are not difficult to search in Manipur. Take the case of teachers. For a level of quality education we need quality teachers. We need transparent recruitment process. The recently proposed recruitment of college teachers in the State Government's Cabinet decision had agreed to regularize 418 part time lecturers which is more than half of the total number of post required.

Since many of them are not eligible for even entry level at colleges, the decision to regularize part time teachers has completely violated all established norms and guidelines of the UGC, the MHRD and the Supreme Court. As per the UGC norm, which is upheld by both the MHRD and the Supreme Court, minimum qualification for appointment of Assistant Professors in universities and colleges is NET/SLET/SET or PhD (conditional).

Regularization on the ground that the part-time lecturers have long suffered is unconstitutional. In a ruling of the Supreme Court, Justices GP Mathur and Dalveer Bhandari observed: 'It would be improper for the Courts to give directions for regularization of services of the person who is working either as daily-wager, adhoc employee, probationer, temporary or contractual employee, not appointed following the procedure laid down under Article 14 (equality before law), Article 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) and Article 309 (recruitment and conditions of service of persons serving the Union or a State) of the Constitution. In our Constitutional scheme, there is no room for back door entry in the matter of public employment.'

The present education minister, who is also known for his empty talks on quality education, is trying to make a case for the part-timers by condoning them for the lapses they had committed together. It is true that 'the part-timers are long sufferers'.

But we may look and try to figure out how a large number of people can suffer as teachers for 'a long period of hardship', as the minister longingly used to anoint them. But how to do with the terms like 'sympathy', 'sufferers', 'suffering', etc? Do they have anything to do with his version of quality education? It is a known fact that those who have higher-up connections (or here the part-timers), could simply buck for the jobs through back-door, and enjoy the wages as per the norm.

As they say, phamba challaga hippa challi. They can enjoy public employment without fulfilling the stated norm because they believe job of teaching is just moonlighting and they have proved this when many of them, of course almost all of them, have now established themselves in non-teaching jobs of the kind of contactors, son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws of very rich and influential families. They have a plenty of money. This attracts 'sympathy' of the kind-hearted, 'quality-monger' minister. Sympathy in this case is a sentiment best reflected with a view to material and political gains of a few. It is an unfortunate case that it is this few who enjoys all the flaws of the degraded system that is now deadened to the root.

We may also wonder how they could remain for such a long period of not less than a decade (and even more for some) in their job without being eligible for the posts they are now holding. Had they worked a little harder to equip themselves with the least requirements during this period, they could be eligible for the post of Associate or Full Professorship today. But they did not try it and did not even care to try it for its own sake.

If the education minister is genuinely concerned with the quality of education that he envisages to make it, he needs to first raise an obvious question and answer it too, all by himself. What were the part time teachers doing all these years? We know that teacher recruitment is a much orchestrated game of the ruling elites to prove a dictum: If you have connection with us, you can win and you will for sure. As a result of this dumping practice, condition of higher education in Manipur is in such a rotten state as we have seen today.

To this we may add that many hard-working students with very poor economic background have emerged themselves eligible for the jobs required. The cabinet sympathy will deprive these candidates off their dues. Not only depriving them, the recent move by the government of Manipur to regularize ineligible teachers has also devised an evil design to kill education in Manipur. I remember what the education minister said in not so distant past: Since you can clear NET/JRF, you are good in study. Why don't you go for competitive exams like civil services?

To us, the minister sounds so ludicrous and he may be reminded that minimum eligibility for joining the bureaucratic services is Bachelor's degree. It means that these services do not require NET/JRF or MPhil and PhD degrees. To the surprise of many, we have people who value academic career more than others. The proposed recruitment drive for teachers will be a big step towards building quality education if the process can detect sincere candidates who love the job. It will be a good chance if we are able to recast the job of teaching as a serious profession for those who can do, and not as moonlighting job for some woolly heads.

We have had enough swaggers as teachers, who wanted to bully in the lectures with full of stories about their kids studying outside/abroad. Unable to read and think, they wanted to conceal their weakness. So the obtuse thinking gets expressed in the hubristic persona, many of such kinds roaming to fill the entire college campuses. While in the classroom they create a sense of an atmosphere of terror. So that the students feel inferior even when they see the flashy cars they bring right till the mouth of the class. How long is enough to continue like this? But what we need is teachers who can give the sense of confidence to the students, who do not get the opportunity to study 'outside'.

Who is afraid of sincere and passionate teachers? Anyway, those who want to hide the truth would certainly fear those who seek the truth. Be warned. A selection is going to determine the future generations.


* Mirel Khuman wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Research Scholar, JNU.
This article was posted on November 10, 2014.


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