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Importance Of School Education In Manipur: Policy Concerns And Priorities

Moichingmayum Mustaque Alish Aijaja *



''Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"-Nelson Mandela

It is more than six decades ago that India embarked on the task of transforming the elitist system of education inherited from the colonial past into one that is mass based and built on principles of equality and social justice. The task has not been an easy one. Education is a significant instrument for national development, socio-economic change and a convincing strategy to improve the quality of life of all, irrespective of their cast, religion or sex.

The country also had to contend with galloping population neutralising the progress made in getting children to school and ensuring quality education for all. This endeavour, stretched over more than six decades, has witnessed several significant policy measures resulting in remarkable progress as reflected in near universal enrolment of children in schools.

The article 45 of the constitution clearly delineated that "the state shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this constitution, free and compulsory education to all children until they complete the age of 14 years." But the constitutional directive to provide basic education to all children within a period of 10 years, however remain unfulfilled.

One of the most defining moments in this journey has been the amendment of the Constitution making education a Fundamental Right and adopting corresponding the Right to education Act by the Indian Parliament in 2009. These achievements and policy measures have raised new expectations for the future.

Having achieved near universal enrolment of children in elementary stage and vast expansion of access to education at all levels the Manipur is concerned to move on major initiatives on the quality fronts. It is to ensure that children not only go to school but also receive quality education. But this demands several policy reform measures refocusing our attention and investment of resources on certain priority areas.

Such a policy of consolidation has to clearly move towards new framework for establishing new schools as well as combining the existing ones to create viable schools of good quality. This would also demand examining alternate means of facilitating participation of children through provision of transportation and residential facilities.

The need is urgent as small schools which generally get located in the fringes of villages are invariably inhabited by the marginalised groups leading to further accentuation of inequities even with access to school. Therefore, question of properly equipping every school with adequate material and human resources should be determined based on local parameters such as size and location of the school and accessibility to neighbouring habitations. It may not be desirable to fix a national norm in this regard.

At the welcoming ceremony at Heirok on 26th March 2017, Minister of Education Thokchom Radhesyam said that 333 government schools from class I to V have only one teacher.

Student can't pass class X examination from 73 schools which were recognised by the government till now. Further he said that education and health are the most important department. He gave confidence to the people of Manipur that he would try his level best to bring changes at the present education system in Manipur. This situation is really not good to hear.

Why are such school till now? I want to appeal the government and particularly Minister of Education to bring quality education at all cost for the future of our state.

The child sex ration is 934 per 1000 males and has decreased as compared to 975 in the last census. Manipur has a Literacy rate of 79.85 percent, with male literacy at 86.49 percent and female literacy at 73.17 percent[ Census 2011]. Literacy of Manipur for man and female both are increasing and it is a good sign for the development of education of Manipur.

Many good human beings shall be produced if schools have modern facilities like smart classes etc. Education of Manipur is in poor situation. Commercialisation of education is quickly increasing in our state without any check from the side of the government. Tuition has become culture and took the shape of cottage industries.

Many teachers neglect their regular classes at school and secondary level and involve themselves at private tuition. Poor people are the worst victim of the process who can't afford private schools. Government of Manipur should give confidence to the people by providing modern facilities and quality education to the government schools.

In an era of revolutionary scientific developments, when major breakthrough has been made to know more about our universe and the solar system, it is a pity that our children are deprived of the right to education. Unless primary education undertakes to inculcate a scientific temper in our budding learners, our state can't look forward to a bright future. Simple experiments in an informal creative environment can be introduced into the curriculum which can make teaching and learning a lively and joyful experience for children.

Policy should be to increase women literacy more. Gender disparities still persist with unwarranted male dominance especially rural societies and among disadvantaged communities. The national education system will play a positive role and interventionist role in the empowerment of women, the removal of women's illiteracy and doing away with the obstacles inhabiting their success.

Manipur government shall give focus for the education of women that shall be a significant process towards enhancing their self-esteem, ensuring an equal position in society to enable them to participate in the developmental process.

Primary education as a justifiable right shall enhance the status of education in the country and one can look forward to the fulfilment of the dream of 100 per cent literacy rate in the next decade.

The government of Manipur with the energetic Minister of education should transform the education of Manipur by planning the policy and giving priorities to the school education. We, the people hope a great improvement in school education in Manipur from the new government without any corruption.


* Moichingmayum Mustaque Alish Aijaja wrote this article for e-pao.net
Moichingmayum Mustaque Alish Aijaja is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre of Advance Study, Department of History, AMU, Aligarh. His area of research is environmental history of Manipur during colonial period. You can contact at his mustaqueamu(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on April 11, 2017.


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