Go Private but Good Private

Seram Neken *

Inspire Next-Gen 2011 at Moirang Multipurpose Higher Secondary School, Moirang :: 09th Oct, 2011
Inspire Next-Gen 2011 at Moirang Multipurpose Higher Secondary School, Moirang on 09th Oct, 2011 :: Pix by Shanjoy Mairembam

It is amazing that a reputed private school in Imphal fails to impart education to the students who are going to appear in ensuing metric examination. In this school, Class X students have been advised well in advance to study at home or join private tuitions without attending classes, as it does not have teachers for higher classes. Studying in this school is a curse for many higher class students.

For lower class students, vertical expansion of building and absence of a playground cause inconvenience to the thousands of students. Small students are asked to remain asleep on the desk during break-time daily. Private schools are monopolizing education in Manipur while the government remains mum on education issues.

–Writes Seram Neken

Running a private school or owning a private health clinic becomes the most profitable and lucrative business in Manipur. Public sector always lags behind the private counterparts in respect of garnering clients. Total failure of government run schools has been witnessed in Manipur during the last one decade while the private schools have excelled in producing good students in High school and Higher secondary examinations.

Likewise, private health clinics and hospitals can attract more patients with critical conditions than the government-run hospitals. As there is no hectic competition between the public and the private units concerning health and education sectors, the private is always on the lead.

The government-run schools are not preferred by parents and pupils, because they do not provide quality education. Thus running private schools have become a great industry in Manipur. On the other side of the story, the burgeoning huge numbers of private schools in Manipur have indeed monopolized the school education to undesirable ends. As revealed by the recent bold initiative of the All Manipur Students Union, there are great disparities in school fees among the private schools of Manipur.

The fee structure and guidelines of private schools are not governed by any established rules and regulations. The school managements charge the fees according to their wishes and no regular norm is followed in imparting education to students. The private school teachers are not properly paid and their services do not have due security.

Most private schools do not have the necessary equipment and infrastructure for moulding good students. There are schools which do not have even playgrounds, computer laboratories and libraries. In spite of inefficient services, the students are charged fees for all amenities which are either absent or are not provided at all. Thanks to the All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) for coming out boldly to regularize the private educational institutions in public interests.

Still, some reputed private schools of the state have not reportedly responded to the call of AMSU. These schools authorities remain sticking to their usual monopoly character in school management. They have failed to explain the irregularities in their fee structure to the public. As everyone knows, a playground and a well-ventilated classroom are very necessary infrastructure of a school.

However, some private schools such as the Heritage Convent school at Uripok, the Blossom school at Moirangkhom, Ruhini North eastern school etc. do not have their play fields for recreation and relaxation of students during the break-time. Some schools ask their students to remain asleep in the classroom during break since they do not have playgrounds. This situation surely affects the healthy growth of students' mind and body. It is obvious that playground is a necessary criterion for running a school. We may blame the authority for awarding affiliation to such unqualified institutions.

Now the AMSU has strongly come out to regularize fee structure of the private schools of Manipur. Only regularizing the fee structure is not enough. The AMSU may go further to see the qualifications, service conditions and salaries of the private school teachers, since teachers are the backbone of education. The school management has to provide remunerations to its teachers commensurate to their qualifications and services.

Some sort of service security may also be maintained in the interests of the teaching community. The AMSU may also look into the efficiency of infrastructure in private schools. Those schools without play fields and proper buildings may be recommended for de-affiliation.

Unlimited vertical expansion of some schools in Imphal city has created anxiety to public, as any eventuality may be disastrous to the huge numbers of students. Therefore, it is suggested that the AMSU may go beyond the fees and go deeper in streamlining the private school system in Manipur. The government, other students' bodies, parents associations and other civil society organizations need to support the endeavour of the AMSU in this regard.

The root of all deteriorating quality education in Manipur is government's apathy towards the education sector. Before some decades, government schools could successfully produce good students. Reputed Doctors, head of departments, engineers, police officers etc. who are either retiring or retired from services now mostly hailed from government schools. Johnstone school, Churachand school, Ram Lal paul School, Tamphasana Girls school, Raja Dumbra school, Ch Iboyaima School, Anand Sing Academy etc. were highly reputed years ago.

How have the government educational institutions deteriorated in quality to a great extent ? This is mostly due to corruption, favouritism and nepotism in selection of teachers. As the teachers were without knowledge, experience and dedication, government schools failed to produce good students.

Hence, the public credibility towards private schools increased. Mission schools such as Don Bosco, Nirmalabas, Little Flower, Catholic School, St Josheph etc. have come to occupy the reputation earlier enjoyed by government schools.

It is time for the government to find out the lacunae inherent in government schools and make necessary corrections to compete the private institutions. If the ailment in government schools is irreparable and incurable, options for whole privatization of education may be considered.

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on February 21, 2012

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