College Principal recruitment by MPSC and Higher education in Manipur

Mohammad Imtiyaj Khan *

 A file picture of College Buildings in Manipur
A file picture of College Buildings in Manipur

Under Manipur University (MU), there are 77 colleges including one constituent college. Since there are hardly any private college in Manipur, most of the colleges are directly (e.g., Govt. colleges) or indirectly (e.g., Govt-aided colleges) controlled by the state Govt. The government should be appreciated for noticing the vacancy of principals in one-third of the colleges and initiating recruitment process for filling the same. Actually many of us who studied outside Manipur would have never come to know that for how many years these colleges have been functioning without an authority called as principal.

What we have known always is that higher education in Manipur has been on death-bed for many years. In fact, in Manipur the higher education was never in good health. Many of us were forced to leave the state and find a decent college somewhere else. This trend is one of the prominent reasons for our state's unimpressive economy. Part of the problem is the hard times that Manipur has been facing on socio-economic and law-order fronts.

For this, I strongly believe that political instability some years back and politicians, in general, are to be blamed. This apart, the unattractive and never-ever happening status of higher education in Manipur could be ascribed to the lack of professionalism and vision on the part of the ex-heads of the 77 colleges under the University.

Lack of Professionalism

The post of college principal, as understood, is responsible for most of the decisions made for quality education and infrastructure development on the campus. Infrastructure on any of those 77 odd colleges functioning in the state is pitifully poor (see photo) that it miserably fails to induce a feel good factor in a prospective student.

Corruption among staff, commission paid to shadowy armed groups for almost any civil work, student unions with vested interests have contributed to the sorry state of infrastructure. Actually there may be many interlinked factors for this, but the expression that will most appropriately describe the situation is 'lack of professionalism'.

Poorly maintained Boy's common room on the campus of DM College of Science in the heart of Imphal. Photographs by this author.
Poorly maintained Boy's common room on the campus of DM College of Science in the heart of Imphal

None of the colleges have a policy of their own to entice students. There is no hostel facility, mess/canteen, transport, travel concession coupon, etc. No enthusiasm and no student-friendly programmes are happening on campus such as a competition/seminar/conference/workshop, pan-Manipur cultural activity, sports with continuity (such as edition 1, 2, 3, etc of the same event) and observable achievements.

If I am not wrong, I have never heard of a career counselling programme or All Manipuri Muslim Students' Meet in Lilong College. This is to say that the student unions have not been coached properly by teachers. The requirements of 21st century students have changed drastically. Keeping pace with the requirements, colleges across the country have introduced vocational courses, choice based credit system, coaching for competitive examinations, internet facility and new modes of teaching.

I feel like asking, how many internet connected computers are there in DM College of Science available to students? These examples can be extended to any of the colleges in Manipur. In fact, as an outsider, I believe that the academic system in Manipur has not been updated since its inception, except for the semester system. Without requisite facilities, it appears that the colleges are running just because they can't be shut down, or shutting down would be a costly affair.

Motivation/interest of the learned and highly potential teachers is being sucked out of them by a massive blackhole called 'unprofessionalism'. In Manipur, none of the colleges has well-equipped laboratories for practical demonstration to students, let alone research facility. Nowadays, heavy investment is required for research specially in life sciences, and chemistry. Manipur Govt. is too poor to invest and set up research labs in degree colleges.

However, courses in computer science (software as well as hardware) would be readily accepted by students and colleges may not need to invest much for this. Various courses of management could be introduced without much infrastructure. Courses on foreign languages will also enhance employability of graduates. Owing to lack of professionalism in higher education, deserving Manipuri students have missed several opportunities.

Vision To build professionalism in education, punctuality and a working system is invariably required. Towards this, an academic calendar should be formulated, implemented and religiously followed in every college, irrespective of the bandhs and similar disturbances from time to time. The eligible candidates for the advertised principal's posts by MPSC should be asked to submit a roadmap for taking the degree colleges to a 'happening level'.

The candidates who present the financially, academically and otherwise feasible blueprint for college development should be recruited and asked to implement it. The government should encourage such vision. It would be difficult for the poor Govt. to develop all the colleges simultaneously, but few selected colleges in Imphal area could be developed as model colleges or 'shining colleges' over a period of 5 years.

There are so many Manipuris serving as professors in various top rated central universities and research institutes such as JNU, New Delhi; Delhi University; IISc, Bangalore. There are some academics serving in foreign Universities as well. They are all our state's assets. Their experiences and visions should be considered for bringing in globally competent and locally feasible ways and means of boosting colleges in Manipur.

The education minister should immediately form an autonomous college development council by drawing members (sons of soil) from various academic and research institutes across the globe for a fixed term of 5 years. The council should be entrusted with the job of supervising the development works in the 'shining colleges'.

Need for a state University

Since MU is well funded, highly qualified faculty members are trying to write new success stories in research. Central University status accorded to it in 2005 has enabled it to function better and attract magnanimous research grants. Being a central University with 76 affiliated colleges is a kind of hurdle in its growth. Hence, the affiliated colleges should be shifted to a new State University entitled 'Imphal University (IU)'.

I hope this move can impart momentum in MU's growth trajectory. We, as Manipuris, should strive to crown MU as the best University in the North-East region. It is possible, that too, in coming 5 years.

Limited seats for post-graduate courses in Manipur, at present only in MU and DM College, compel prospective students to quit studies. The above mentioned 'shining colleges' should be inducted as constituent colleges of IU offering integrated courses such as Integrated M.Sc. Biological Sciences. This will reduce the number of Manipuri students going to other states for post-graduate studies and in turn, we can expect an improvement in the state's economy.

* Mohammad Imtiyaj Khan (Ph.D. submitted) wrote this article for The writer is Guest Faculty, Department of Plant Science, Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod, Kerala. He may be contacted at nohimbo[AT]gmail[DOT]com or
This article was posted on September 07, 2013.

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