TODAY -

Concept of education in Chandel district

Shalini *

A Government School in Chandel  in 2010
A Government School in Chandel in 2010



I couldn't agree more with Nelson Mandela when he said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." I, being a Teach for India fellow and a yth Grade teacher, have seen the weapon work its wonders to change the world bit by bit and would advise everyone not to underestimate its power of transforming things inside and even outside its locus of control.

Teach For India (TFI) is an Indian non-profit organization that aims to eliminate educational inequity in the country by enlisting the nation's most promising college graduates and young professionals to teach for 2 or more years in low-income schools in several metropolitan cities. The movement currently employs 370 Fellows who work across 122 schools in Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi, reaching approximately 12,000 students while also expanding into Chennai and Hyderabad this year.

Owing to my father's profession, my education has been quite an eventful journey as 14 institutions ranging from public to private to convents can claim to contribute to bringing me to the place that I am as of today. The combined exposure as that of a student, in India and abroad and as of a teacher has given me the opportunity to identify the common roadblocks that the education in mainland India faces. For example, shortage of quality teachers, infrastructural deficiencies, inaccessibility of education for some and so on.

A trip to Manipur heightened my sense of being a teacher and my exposure was widened as my mind made a continuous comparison of my situation as a teacher in Pune and situation of the teachers here, in particular the teachers deployed in Assam Rifles Schools. Educational barriers here were different in a lot of sense owing to the different living conditions but a few of the core issues, as noticed, remained constant throughout the country irrespective of an area's demography and geography.

The beauty of the situation, however, was how various systems or measures in place, whose sole purpose was to alleviate the standard of education in remote parts of this country, worked in synergy with the gaps waiting to be filled. Someone aptly called it as "Lost opportunities vs Opportunities in making".

The scenario here is similar to the case of the urban low income schools in terms of English as a second language. The majority being followers of Christianity has ensured English as a medium of education since most of the schools in Chandel District are being sustained by Pastors and Assam Rifles. Along with sincere attempts of the teachers in schools trying to bridge this gap, what has made the difference though is television.

'Idiot box' may have been a boon for many tribal homes as it gives them the means to connect to the rest of the world and directly or indirectly enhance their language skills. The contribution of the security forces cannot be left unsaid here as they have been the reason that many villages close to Assam Rifles post are able to watch the 'Learning Box' and remain well lit at night. Another attempt at filling the education vacuum has been the employment of sponsored teachers in such difficult areas. An example would be the Assam Rifles employing a teacher just to teach a specific language or even subject in a school I worked with over the summer.

The issue of unavailability of required completely different reasons here. Areas which are infested with insurgency, like Sita and Joupi have simply outdone themselves when it comes to the grit of the teachers present in the schools in such sensitive zones. A perfect example to support their dedication towards their students' education is the Shaibol case.

Due to the security situation, the teachers could not go to the schools in the village to provide quality education to the children. The teachers then collectively decided to bring the children over to Pallel to provide them education in a more secure environment. What touched me more was the decision of the teachers to fund the tuition fees of all the students.

Infrastructure shortages are bound to be prevalent in areas with conditions such as these. Despite the odds, schools have been given a priority in the development plans, be it the plans of the Assam Rifles or the local village committees.

Flight of the youth from rural to semi-urban areas has been considerably arrested with improved accessibility to quality education. I had the privilege of interacting with the teachers at the Assam Rifles School at Pallel and they informed me that the student strength increased from a mere strength of 35 students to 200 students in just a year. The majority of the students strength comprised the civilian population in and around Pallel.

A wholesome education is being provided to the students here with a science park explaining the most complex of Physics concepts in the most simplistic and practical ways. Cultural activities have been integrated with the academic curriculum in a remarkable way. It was also very encouraging to see the effects of such innovativeness on children at this school. I was deeply touched by offer of free education to the Children from Agape Orphanage.

Most motivating for the children were National Integration tours to Bangalore, New Delhi and Shillong, thus bringing the children from remote areas closer to the national mainstream.

All these practices and endeavours by various bodies present in this area have reaffirmed my faith in the education system of India. I am sanguine that very soon education will not be referred to as a privilege but a fundamental right in remote areas like Chandel district in Manipur. My salutations to Children of Chandel for being strong believers of "opportunities in Making" with the support of the emerging resolute civil society, civil administration and Assam Rifles.


* Shalini wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on June 21 2012



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