Education in the Valley and the Hills Areas of Manipur
- Part 1 -

Lakpachui Siro *

It is, indeed, a great honour for me to be here before you to share a few thoughts on education issue in Manipur State on this auspicious "Irabot Day". Considering my limited knowledge of Comrade Irabot's life and work, I am not qualified to speak on this occasion. However, I have accepted the invitation with humility to share some concerns I felt as a young Naga scholar who is doing research in the field of education and a scholar coming from the State where Comrade Irabot came from.

The emphasize on literacy campaign is soon going to end as in few years time from now India will soon cross 90 percent literacy. The focus will now shift to higher education. But before we move on to higher education; primary, upper primary, secondary and senior secondary levels of education cannot be neglected.

It is only with strong foundation, at the lower levels of education, that will guarantee success at the higher level of education. The quality of secondary and senior secondary levels of education thus become critical in so far as the success rate of student getting admission in various professional courses and in reputed higher education institutions are concerned.

However, looking at the quality of secondary and higher secondary levels of education in most part of the State, especially in Hill Areas, relatively there is no sign of progressive improvement. Rather, most of the hill based schools are trailing at the bottom, taking performance at the board examinations as an indicator.

This would mean chances of students from hill districts getting admission to BE/ B.Tech, MBBS, BBA, B. Sc. (Hons), BA/ LLB, B. Com, B. Sc. (Agri), etc. are getting slimmer year after year. Not to mention of high level of competition in most of the reputed higher educational institutions in India for admission. Meaning, even if we complete higher education, possibility of getting decent job will become very slim because of the inability to enroll in various professional and reputed higher education institutions.

Certainly, this will lead to increasing number of educated unemployment in the State, which is evident now from the recent government report on the number of unemployment that has crossed 7 Lakh.

secondary school distribution amongst various districts in Manipur
Table 1.1 - secondary school distribution amongst various districts in Manipur

The data (Table 1.1) can be said to fair in terms of senior secondary school distribution amongst various districts in Manipur with the exception of Tamenglong district. In the Hill Areas, say, a district like Ukhrul seems to be fairly represented in the state higher secondary education establishment. However, if we look at the number of students and teachers and other quality parameters, the Hill Areas are lagging far behind. (See Table 1.2).

For instance, in the last year 10+2 examination, the total number of students that appeared in the examination from five government senior secondary schools in Ukhrul District was only 150 students. Compare this with two government senior secondary schools such as T.G. Higher Secondary School and Johnstone Higher Secondary School of Imphal West district. These two schools had 1722 students that appeared in the 2015 Examination.

Percentage of secondary school level examination
Table 1.2 - Percentage of secondary school level examination

The stark difference can be witnessed even in the examination performance. The pass percentage of the five government higher secondary schools from Ukhrul district was only 15.3 percent whereas for the two government school in Imphal West district was 56.09 percent. In the 2016 examination out of 150 students that appeared from Ukhrul Hr. Sec. School only 5 students passed the exam.

Ukhrul district ranked as the lowest performing district in the state and the only district that shows no improvement from last year board examination (See Table 1.2).

With this trend where are we heading towards in realizing increasing numbers of student graduates with high quality higher education? The efforts to improve access to quality higher education seem to have limited only for some and not for all members of the society.

Therefore, it is pertinent to investigate various factors that might have negative contribution to creating huge gap within the same management and government system. Some of the factors discovered in field surveys are the lack of adequate quantity and quality of teachers and basic infrastructure.

The biggest and oldest government higher secondary school in Ukhrul district has no Physics lecturer for a complete academic year whereas school like T.G. Higher Secondary School had 12 Physics lecturers, although both the schools are under the same management.

In such a situation how can we expect student to pass in the board examination? Last year (2015) data shows that the 5 government higher secondary schools in Ukhrul district could not produce a single student that could pass in the science stream.

This is in sharp contrast to the aforesaid mentioned government schools from Imphal West district that had the record of 700 students who had cleared the board examination in Science stream.

To be continued....

* Lakpachui Siro delivered this as part of 'Irabot Day Memorial Lecture ' which was published as a booklet on 'Irabot Day Observance 2016'
The writer is Convener, Forum for Understanding the Naga-India Conflict & Human Rights (FUNICH)
This article was posted on October 12 2016.

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