Education in the Valley and the Hills Areas of Manipur
- Part 2 -

Lakpachui Siro *

A strong school level foundation had a direct relationship to the higher level of student getting enrolled in the higher education institutions. This is evident from the increasing number of student enrolment in higher education within the State. Thus, Manipur has the second highest student gross enrolment in higher education in India (Table 1.3).

Higher Education Student Enrollment in Manipur University
Table 1.3 :: Higher Education Student Enrollment in Manipur University

For a state with a mere population of 28.56 lakh population, enrolment of 55,743 in higher education can be said to be very high. However, referring to Table 1.2 and the increasing trends of number of hill students seeking admission outside the state (more than 300 students from Ukhrul took admission in the University of Delhi in 2016), it would not be wrong to say that the enrolment in the State higher education institution is mostly from the valley students.

Furthermore, if we do quick study on the location of 73 higher education institutions, more than 40 odd institutions are located in the four valley districts. This would mean that the valley areas have good system in place to absorb all those students who want to pursue higher education but not in the position to study outside the state.

The minimum opportunity is comparatively absent for the poor students in the hill areas. The disparity becomes evident. We are noticing an increasing advancement of higher education for a particular section of population who are located in clusters of government sponsored educational institutions and other facilities.

This facility is either unavailable or structurally neglected by the system in the hill areas. Since the hill areas are predominantly inhabited by 'tribals', the structural neglect amounts to keeping the concerned sections of population in a situation of deprivation and injustice.

It is high time that all the stakeholders including students' union, civil societies organizations, leaders of the community and all the concerned individuals to sit down together to chart out the best possible solution to the current structural injustice and disparity in education pertaining to those in the hill districts.

Quality education, whether it is at school level or at university level must be available for all students irrespective of geographical location, ethnicity, caste, gender, class, etc. The State and society that is unable to address this concern will eventually create a negative situation marked by emigration of students from their home district or state.

Perhaps, there is high level of student emigration from the Hill Areas of Manipur State. This trend has a negatively contributed to an alarming trend of wealth drain. A rough estimation of wealth drain from Ukhrul would substantiate the point.

In fact, Ukhrul, which is a very low income district have been paying huge expense for higher education outside the State. Taking the current number of 300 undergraduate students in the University of Delhi alone, with average monthly expenditure of Rs. 10,000 per student, the annual expense comes to Rs. 30,00,000.

When they have to live three years to complete graduation the corpus expense comes to Rs. 90,00,000 Lakh. If we add up those students who have finished three-year degree course and are pursuing Masters Course the amount crosses Rs 1 crore a month. This is a huge financial burden for a small and economically unsound district like Ukhrul.

When one further add to this a vast chunk of students pursuing education in other universities and cities such as Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Mumbai, etc., the drain of wealth through emigrant students easily crosses Rs. 2 crore for the district. The questions that we need to ask is: what will be the end result? The number of emigrant student turned job seekers getting favourable employment outside the State is very small.

Therefore, regular and healthy repatriation to repay the drain of wealth and improve financial condition remain quite uncertain. On the contrary, number of families undergoing through difficult monetary crisis due to imbalanced drain of wealth is increasing year after year. Many families are indebted in financing higher education outside the State.

Can we say this situation is a natural problem that had to be single handedly handled by a concerned individual or a family or a community or a district?

Where does one locate the 'self' in this entire mechanism of wealth drain due to systematic neglect and deprivation in the education sector by the seemingly democratic government?

Should the neglected region or the worst affected community fight a struggle alone? Can we say this situation or the problems is only for one particular community and district and not for all those who have voted in favour of the regime?

Taking the education disparity as an example, can this trend, if continued, help peoples in building sustainable development and peaceful co-existence? And finally, to the supporters of Comrade Irabot, let us reflect on how he might have responded to this concern.

Thank you.

Lakpachui Siro
Forum for Understanding the Naga-India Conflict & Human Rights (FUNICH)


* 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 16 2016.

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