The present trend of the engagement of the surrogate teachers in the sub-division of Tamei
- Part 2 -

Aliulakliu Niumei *

A view of Tamei and Tousem Sub Division in Tamenglong District in February 2013
A view of Tamei and Tousem Sub Division in Tamenglong District in February 2013 :: Pix - Ibomcha Yumnam

The past and the present trend of education system under the Autonomous District Council (ADC) Tamenglong.

Tamei is a sub-division in Tamenglong district. Lack of proper education has been the problem of underdevelopment in all aspects of life for a long time. Physical remoteness and the hills topographical feature of the district accentuated this underdevelopment. Education, health, law and order, and the general administration of the sub-division are still in rudimentary stages today.

To tackle the manifold problems of underdevelopment in the hill districts, the Central Government passed "The Manipur (Hill areas) District Council Act, 1971. Accordingly, the first election to the Autonomous District Councils (ADC) was held in 1973. The office of the District Council was found functional from the month of Sept. 1973 and Dm. Nganthonang was the first Chairman of the ADC.

The schools under the ADC was established in 1974. The first recruitment of teachers under the ADC was in 1975. The first education system under the ADC was deputed from parent education (ZEO) in 1974. The 60 (sixty) schools were deputed from education under the ZEO including 162 teachers to schools under the ADC, Tamenglong.

However, soon after the installation and function of the ADC, the the District Council faced many challenges in its working culture, such as, lack of fund and the inability to execute developmental activities without the approval and consent of the State Government. The main issues faced by the ADC are due to lack of legislative powers for the District Council to address in a legitimate approach. ADC elections were thereafter, boycotted by the people and the ADC stopped to function since 1988.

This left an irreversible vacuum in the political space in the hill districts. In its place came the rule by the bureaucrats of the ADC. Under the arrangement, local self-governance suffered and so also the general administration particularly in education, health, developmental projects etc. The implications of this political vacuum are still evident in the primary education sector. Problem of surrogate teachers is one of the major concerns confronting the education sector. Our challenge is the fight against the engagement of surrogate teachers.

The surrogacy system was first adopted at Dunong, Tamei Sub-Division. During 1997-98, the Deputy Commissioner, Tamenglong, Mr. Sajat Hussain, IAS had happened to visit in one of the schools in Tamei Block called "Dunong Govt. Primary School" at Dunong.

During his visit he found a boy who was qualified to teach the classes in place of his father who was the Headmaster of that Government Primary School and the boy was appointed as substitute teacher otherwise surrogate teacher because his father was Class VIII (Eight) only and he is making impressive achievement in the line of teaching far better than his father. Accordingly, the village leaders and the students at this particular village praised and appreciated the boy who spoke with the then Deputy Commissioner in English fluently.

On seeing of the capacity of the boy and ability in many ways, the Deputy Commissioner, Tamenglong himself extended his moral support to continue to teach in the school more efficiently and he rather praised him for his better performance. The Deputy Commissioner, Tamenglong, of course, accepted as an exceptional case, not otherwise.

After many years as soon as the ADC came into being, culture of surrogacy again had revitalized in the area of Tamei sub-division as many Primary School teachers who were Class VIII (eigth) were found ineffective in the line of teaching their pupils. In those days, those who have passed Class VIII (eight) were appointed by the concerned Department as teachers in all Government Primary School.

Statement of the problem:

A teacher who is always absentee obliges hiring local as surrogate teacher has become a socio-politically accepted norm in the primary schools located in the remote hill districts of Manipur.

Local unemployed youth are engaged to teach and also undertake administrative tasks from the conduct of exam to the declaration of result on behalf of the permanent teachers who are occupied in other professions. For rendering these academic and administrative duties, the surrogate teachers are paid about 1/10th amount of the salary of the permanent teachers. Therefore, the prevailing general perception holds that this contractual relation between the permanent teacher and the surrogate teacher is symbiotic and functional.

Moreover, this practice has been informally accorded social sanctity by the local authority and the society as well. Towards this, the headmasters, and the School Management Development Committees (SMDC) normally headed by the chairman of the village authority oversee the recruitment of surrogate teachers, payment of their salaries and the administration of the schools.

Without doubt, this contractual relation between the teachers is symbiotic and functional for the parties con- cerned. However, this surrogate pedagogy has been shown to be detrimental for the students and the schools. As a result, these schools have become largely dysfunctional and so students migrate from these state-run educational institutions to the private schools. Only students who cannot afford to go to private schools remain enrolled in the government primary schools. Further, most of the pupils who continued to study in the state-run primary schools eventually dropped out by the time they reach high schools.

Correspondingly, the untrained surrogate teachers also lose interests and compliments to impart bespoke education. In the end, this system of surrogate teaching adversely affects the teachers' morale, the student's career and the overall quality of educational scenario in the hill districts. This study argues that the problem of surrogate teachers can only be addressed only when the issues of residents and the SMDC, the system that supports it are properly addressed.

Rationale of the Study

Varied causes for this anomic social phenomenon have been identified. Among them, recruitment, residence and syllabus/medium have been widely identified as the primary causes for this social phenomenon. This study however, argues that the above are merely the necessary causes for the social phenomenon of surrogate teachers in the remote hill districts. The sufficient cause for this phenomenon points towards the social norm that has accepted surrogacy in education: the existing belief that surrogate teachers are functionally useful for the teachers, students and the schools.

The study also makes policy recommendations for the state to try and initiate them in order to overcome this social dilemma. The study suggests that the state critically re-examines the prevailing notion that primary education can be easily replicated by even untrained teachers and also evolves an educational system that strictly requires adhering to teaching as a professional career that would also attract the best of talents and committed people.

Concluded ...

* Aliulakliu Niumei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on January 17, 2016.

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