For Safe Learning : Contemporary primary education

Seram Neken *

Two out of 15 school children undergoing emergency treatment at the JNIMS Casualty Ward on May 23 2013
Two out of 15 school children undergoing emergency treatment at the JNIMS Casualty Ward on May 23 2013 :: Pix - TSE

Contemporary primary education in modern Manipur produces two important personalities whom the parents trust most. In the eyes of most parents, a van driver and a private tutor appear to be symbols of security and development of their children. As an outcome of the system, parents inevitably associate with these two individuals until their wards attain maturity. However, in an ideal educational set-up, they are really unnecessary.

Without pondering over the quality of school teachers, parents are in search of the best private tutor. Numbers of private tuition centres and home tutors have increased manifold, with the tuition fees soaring day by day. The scope of competition among the schoolchildren has surpassed the campuses.

Everywhere, we see parents toiling for long hours at the gate of private tutors or tuition centres. The expenses are in time, energy and money. It has become fashionable for many parents as well as students to get private learning from reputed teachers. In such a scenario, complaining for quality teaching in school campuses has almost become nil.

Most parents treat campus teaching as secondary to private tuition. Moreover, school teachers have also started neglecting classroom teaching, leaving the students to vie for private tuition. Hence, emerging trend of private tuitions is suicidal for the academic institutions in the long run.

Notwithstanding the distance from their residences, it is natural for the parents to seek admission in noted institutions. The deteriorating quality of government primary schools in each and every locality of the state compels the parents to send their wards to faraway schools spending huge expenses. Secured transportation to schools is a big concern to many parents. It is inevitable to seek the school van services for transportation of the students.

Although school van service has generated employment to a number of unemployed youths of the state, it has many lacunae in the education system. Children encounter hardships in the congested vehicle, and they are made to spend more time on the way to school. Parents incur heavy expenses to avail of the transport facility.

As the law and order situation is bad, there is always an anxiety in the minds of the parents. In spite of all these drawbacks, the parents have still to enjoy the school van service for their children's schooling. The trend will not be changed to the better, unless and until government schools in every locality of the state are improved at par with the noted private schools.

The only option as of now in the existing school education system is to trust the two individuals - the van driver and the private tutor. Regarding their children's career, parents put full confidence on these two personalities. A van driver is supposed to provide security, while a private tutor is meant for academic progress of the children.

The recent report of suffocation of 15 school kids inside the school van has alarmed the conscious parents, school authorities and the van service providers to adopt certain rules regarding transportation networks.

The condition of the running vehicles, the driving experience of the drivers, the capacity of the children and the school timings are to be considered while framing rules for the transport system. While assigning the authority of implementing such rules to the school van associations, the parents associations and the school management can act as watchdogs in the matter. Not only in matters of transport, there are many other aspects of leaning environment that need attention of the authority.

Do our schools have a child-friendly environment ? Enough space for playing, adequate sports equipment, safe drinking water, child oriented library, a good campus surrounding free of intoxicants, tobacco and unwanted food, a good transport system free of congestion, proportionately weighed comfortable school-bags etc. are necessary for the security and development of our school going kids. The school authorities need to be cautious of such amenities, besides caring for academic excellence. The state education department may put an eye on the functioning of private schools particularly at the primary level.

Most shops erected near the school campuses in Manipur used to sell cigarettes, pan, and other tobacco products, in defiance of laws. School bags of small kids weigh disproportionate to the child's weight. Safe drinking water is not available at many school campuses. School toilets remain inadequate and dirty in a number of schools.

There are private schools with huge buildings and without playing fields for the children. School library and playthings for children are not given attention by most school authorities. A number of fully loaded school vans are seen plying on the road in swift speed to collect students and deposit to the campus on time. Such an unruly transportation system risks the small kids, whose development depends on a friendly learning environment.

Only learning lessons in the classroom is not the aim of education. The goal of education is the complete and all round development of a child. Let the child progress in a friendly learning environment with adequate amenities for development.


School Managers particularly of the private schools need to enforce a set of rules in regard to the transport services. Vehicle conditions, driver's proficiency, capacity of children, school timings etc. are to be considered while making a rigid guideline. The van service guilds and the parents should also support the strict implementation of the rules.

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao as part of "The Voiceless Speaks'
This article was posted on May 29, 2013.

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