Is school system paralyzed in Manipur ?

Grace Kamei *

Board of Secondary Education, Manipur Building
Board of Secondary Education, Manipur Building

The school system in Manipur is at critical condition. Time has come to check and need a scientific study to find out the ills in the school system. Many right minded people, educationist, researcher, scholar, author, teacher and students have raised various questions and recommended for the better school system of Manipur for the past many years by writing up an articles in the newspaper also by updating in the facebook. So far there is no change in the education system. Year by year we can see the progress in human development but the school systems of Manipur remain same with no progress instead getting worse.

The education department hardly focuses on the smooth functioning of the education round the year. This year, parents, students were expecting a good result of pass percentage for class X and XII. The dreams of thousands of students and parents have spoiled due to higher number of fail percentage than the pass percentage. Parents were hoping to see the fruits of their children but the result of failed has keep their hope into hopeless. The Manipur Board and the Council of Higher Secondary had clarified that the reason behind the increase of fail percentage in the state was to promote quality education.

But, the question is how the Board and Council of Manipur should maintain the quality of education only in the exam times? Why they fail to monitor the quality education from the very beginning of the academic session? To maintain quality education there should be at least minimum facilities in schools like adequate teachers/staff, toilets, classrooms, library, furniture, drinking water and teaching aids. Without which, what is to expect from the schools and students?

Many merits awards and scholarships have provided for the high profile students and merits students by their respected schools, colleges and other organization. But unfortunately, no one bothers for the students who failed in the exams of class X and XII. There is a high chance of psychological problems among the students who failed in the exam. These students may even take up extreme steps in life like committing suicide, drug addicts, gambling, involved in anti-social elements, and many other wrong ways. No proper counseling programs for students have not been taken for the failed in class X and XII by their schools and colleges.

It is unfortunate that the number of students in the government schools have been decreasing year by year due to mismanagement of the concerned authority. The numbers of failed students' percentage in government school and colleges have been higher than the private school. The question is how far the education department and the Manipur Boards have taken an initiative to check the government schools and colleges running in the state.

The attendance of the teachers in Government schools and colleges including both hills and valley is very poor that lead to hamper the day to day lesson for the particular subject. These poor attendance systems of the teacher highly affected the interest of students who dreams for good careers in life. Students who came from poor economic background are worse affect for they could not afford for private tuition. They are mostly depending on schools and colleges to learn and equip all the knowledge teach by their teachers.

A Government school must have teachers of requisite qualifications and disposition that is the quality starts from the teacher and management of learning process, and they should have the necessary motivation, outlook to cater to the needs of the students. Teaching-learning process is supposed to contribute to high performances in academic and other activities. The quality of education is a continue process beginning from bottom to top by strengthening elementary education which is the foundation. But what we see today is examining the quality education at the top without examining from the bottom which is the root of education.

Coming to the system of private schools, one can see the good performances of students are due to well trained from the well defined system of private schools. Private schools and colleges are far better in performances than the government schools and colleges. The learning outcomes in government schools in many states too have declined rapidly whereas the private school performance in most states has remained steady.

Another negative aspect of both education systems in the government schools and private schools, there are corrupt systems. All the private and college schools are not good and not free from weaknesses. Year after year the fees of private schools and college have been increasing to sky. The department of education gives them free hands to act recklessly.

In order to maintain their outward performance also to attract the students, many private schools and colleges have started competition with one another in different forms. Some schools and colleges have started to have their own college note books, dress code, bags, uniform and other things. Now the students are made to buy all the required things from the schools and colleges.

The question is how far these new innovative things created for the students can bring better result in exam? There is also a case of selling of schools and colleges uniforms in higher amount than the normal rate available in common market. One may raise the question to the authority of schools and colleges their objective or goal? Are they trying to provide quality of education to the students of the state or doing business? Recently, some students unions have taken action against those private schools and colleges who engage in selling schools uniforms and other materials to the students.

The private schools and college have no consideration or fee discounts for economically weaker sections of the society. Majority people of the Manipur are poor and they are living in the rural areas. Most of the people living in the rural areas and hill districts of the state cannot afford to study in the private schools. Poor parents whose incomes are meager or negligible cannot bear the burden of private schools fee and their children are suffered miserably. Thus, poor parents have to send their children to the so called unwanted government schools.

Comparatively speaking schools in Imphal area are much better than that of schools in hill districts of Tamenglong, Ukhrul, Senapati, Churachandpur and Chandel. The hill areas are getting much less in allocation of essential infrastructures including qualified teachers due to various factors. Due to poor education system in hills areas, every year thousands of students are looking for better schools in Imphal. Students hailing from these hill districts face lots of burdens and hurdles to get into private schools and colleges. Majority of them are from poor economic background. They come to study at Imphal by staying at rented house or hostel or boarding. For them it is double burden when there is rise of fees in private schools and colleges as they have to pay for their accommodation too.

Recently, the decision of Government of Manipur to abolish Bengali school in the middle of the ongoing academic session also shows the real misuse of the authority. The rights of students have not practiced and recognized that will affect the students' career and life. The Right to Education Act provided by government for quality education has not been implemented in a right way. There is a huge gap between the students and the education act provided to them.

Another challenge faced by the state is the inadequate infrastructures for higher education. A lack of choice in the course of study at the higher education infrastructures lead to many students' career spoiling in the state. The existing conditions of colleges fail to provide the need of class XII pass out students every year. The parents who are economically better off can afford to send their children out of the state for their higher education, at the same time these students are facing lots of challenges outside Manipur state on account of language barrier, the standard of education, cultural change, and racial discriminations. And for the poor parents they cannot afford their children to go outside the state for higher studies due to poverty. Here, the responsibility of the state Government fails to ensure enough competitive colleges for the students to pursue their higher education in the state.

It is important to review the existing conditions and staffing norms for teachers in the government schools. These would ensure optimum utilization of teachers and would help to do away the problems of shortage of trained teachers in the school and colleges. It is also important to study the present position in respect of accessibility of schools children, infrastructure deficiencies, non-availability of qualified teachers in the village schools, attendance of teachers and students, and drop-out rates.

Though education is the talk of the day, it remains a challenge for the state of Manipur until the government run schools are rectified. Once the Government schools can provide the quality of education, then the poor and rich students will avail the benefits of the quality education equally. Need of the hour is to improve quality of government schools substantially and do away the gap between children who attend there and the others that may create a big divide in every aspect of life and opportunity.

* Grace Kamei wrote this article for The Sangai Express and Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on July 22, 2015.

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