TODAY -

Do we need no education?

Ozzyjane Laishram *



The bright faces of young boys and girls from North East states dotting the residential pockets across Delhi become a familiar sight in early June every year.

The reason is: it is the season for college admissions in undergraduate courses in Delhi University (DU). But my nephew, Johnson, missed the long-awaited bandwagon, because the National Institute of Open Schooling, popularly known as NOS, came in his way.

Johnson called me up just a few days back to inform me that he had passed the NOS senior secondary examinations and asked me to check out the DU admission schedules. Without delay, I did find out "when, where and how" the university's centralised admission form would be available and immediately informed him of all the possible pushes and pulls in DU admission.

Encouraging him in the new venture, I shared some recollections from my early days in Delhi, when my brother (his father) first dropped me in the Delhi University North Campus, way back in the summer of 1995.

Delhi has some educational hotspots, such as DU North Campus, Jamia Milia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University, that are attributed with a unique academic environment that can transform even a thug into a bookworm. My nephew, Johnson, wished to experience the same; if not a thug, at least a typical lazy Manipuri brat who had lost his direction at a social crossroads into an educated hunk.

On the same day that I heard that some DU colleges had begun pre-admission programmes on the campus, Johnson called me up again saying his examination result showed him in 'waiting' position. We did not know the meaning of the term 'waiting' and some NOS officials in Bishenpur-a small town where Johnson lives in Manipur- suggested we visit the NOS headquarters to find out what it meant. I did as per their suggestion on a torrid Monday morning.

After sharing every detail about Johnson's examination result with an official at the NOS headquarters, I was anxious and shocked. 'Anxious' because the official said there is no such term as 'waiting' to indicate position in any examination result and 'shocked' because my nephew got a bad remark of cheating in his examination records at the headquarters.

Johnson was dumbfounded for a moment when I said his examination result was neither 'passed' nor 'failed'. Everything could not have come to light had I not visited the NOS headquarters in time. I wonder how many students in Bishenpur would so far have visited NOS headquarters to check their examination results. Probably a few or none! The truth finally revealed that he had not only failed, but that his examination papers had been dumped under a serious cheating case unearthed at NOS headquarters.

Just a few months back a survey report in The Times of India (New Delhi edition) revealed that Manipur ranks among the top five most corrupt states in India. I wonder what the finding gives Manipur-the Land of Jewels-such a bad image.

But the fact of fakes permeates all spheres in our society, and the state is also one player-a big one where corruption even finds its way in the education sector. I wish to find out how many young people in Manipur have become victims of NOS' fake examinations.

I would call it the biggest parental mistake in Manipur to consider open schooling an alternative schooling solution for their children, who may have failed either in high school or senior secondary examinations, just to ensure their children pass easily and effortlessly.

Some NOS officials take advantage of the openness of open schooling and suck money from the innocent. They are mindless not to consider the value of education and its role in youth development.

The experience of my nephew had instilled in me an idea to organise workshops or counseling programmes particularly for NOS officials as well as parents of those young students enrolled in the distance learning institute. Otherwise we will witness more than a dozen Johnsons every year and it would undoubtedly multiply the existing problems among youth in the state.

NOS must offer 'open' examinations for students who should prepare themselves in a way different from the format followed by their regular counterparts. Otherwise the meaning of open schooling will mislead everyone into wrong paths such as those of the NOS officials at the Bishenpur centre.

The modus operandi of those NOS officials is so simple that one couldn't ever imagine it would be that way. They collect money from students at every step, right from the submission of counterfeited answer sheets to the regional NOS centre at Guwahati. And students enjoy the fill it (examination form), shut it (study materials) and forget it (sitting exams) type of academic sessions.

Well, after all is said and done, the time has come to curb the activities of the local NOS officials playing hide-and-seek games. Save your kids from falling into the pit of illiteracy. In my nephew Johnson's case, it took one year to get a fallacious exam result. You decide what Johnson has lost!


* Ozzyjane Laishram contributes regularly to e-pao.net. The writer is Associate Editor of a New Delhi-based Magazine and can be reached at ozzyjane(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on June 18th, 2009.




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