Manipur an agenda for school education : Vision 2020
- Part 2-

Dr S Gyaneswar Singh *

Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) is a support to primary education. Since enrolment starts at Class I the school going habit can be formed by providing pre-school education before the child is enrolled in School, through play way activities. Formal teaching of subjects and reading and writing must be clearly prohibited. (NCFSE : 2000).

Too early schooling is definitely detrimental to both physical and mental health of children. Many of the health and behaviour problems of chilhood are associated with too early formal schooling. The pre-school components of Balwadis/Anganwadis must be strengthened with nutritional support under ICDS schemes as an adjunct to all primary schools with a view of providing good quality early childhood education to all children until 6 years of age. This would help in developing the school going habit and provide necessary support to enhance enrolment and retention in the schools.

Suitable training modules may be devised and need based curriculum may be developed for pre-school educators with suitable training facilities. A pre-school Teacher Education Institute should be established under the norms and standards of NCTE, which is an immediate need of the State. A suitable State policy on pre-school education may be evolved immediately.

The quality of school education to a large extent depends on the quality of teachers. “Teacher performance is the most crucial input in the field of education. Whatever policies may be laid down, in the ultimate analysis, there have to be interpreted and implemented by teachers, as much through their personal examples as through teaching learning processes.

Teacher selection and training competance, motivation and conditions of work impinge directly on teachers’ performance” (POA: 1992). The State policies and programmes for teacher education should be under the following lines—first, the quality of candidates who seek admission in Teacher Education Institutions, secondly, the quality, relevance and rigour of the pre-service preparation/training; thirdly, the breadth and depth of in-service training programmes for practising teachers; and fourthly, the self-propelled motivation of teachers, both prospective and practising for professional development.

The State has presently eight DIETs under the SCERT and another DIET is also in the pipeline for elementary teacher education. For secondary teacher education there is one CTE under State management and other four self-financing BEd colleges are running on commercial lines. A study centre of IGNOU is conducting BEd programme under distance education mode for in-service school teachers.

These existing teacher training institutions have confmed themselves to the conventional roles of awarding degrees and diplomas without undertaking any innovations, experimentation, research and development in education. They have to move radically away from their earlier moth-eaten roles to prepare teachers for the 21st Century Manipur. Teacher education being a professional course must be linked with manpower requirements of the State. The mismatch between demand and supply of teachers invariably creates problems.

In order to ensure balance between demand and supply, short-term and long-term manpower requirements need to be worked out carefully. Requirement of teacher for specific subjects—Science, Mathematics, English language and so on—need special consideration. The percentage of trained teachers in different stages of education in 1996 were—Primary 46%, Upper Primary 28%, Secondary 30% and Higher Secondary 41 %. The problem of backlog of untrained teachers is not improved till today. On the other hand, the number of untrained teacher is increasing every year due to unabated appointment of untrained teachers to meet the expansion of School education.

A definite policy is needed to deal with the problem of untrained teachers. Depending upon their age and number of years in service, it might not be necessary to train in regular institutions all the untrained teachers who are presently in Schools. Augmentation of training capacity of ‘existing institutions, distance mode of teacher education, introduction of education courses as part of the first degree are some of the strategies that can be thought of.

In order to bring professionalisation in teacher education, an integrated teacher education programme may be introduced both at elementary and secondary levels of teacher preparation. These courses will cover upto 4 to 5 years of training after the plus 2 stage which is the existing pattern of teacher education in many developed countries. The existing one year BEd programme for secondary teacher education should be extended to two years. The teacher recruitment should be made more stringent, based on a set of criteria such as career, aptitude, attitudes and competence.

A cadre for Teacher Educators separately for Elementary and Secondpry teacher education may be formed. In order to develop professionalism among teachers, the quality of the pre-service training progammes may be substantially improved. Due emphasis should be given to in-service training specially in Science, Mathematics, Computer Education and English language competency.

It is necessary to provide suitable orientation and training of functionaries who discharge the responsibilities of implementing SSA mission—ZEO, DI etc. An Institute of Advance Study in Education (lASE) should be established to discharge these functions and networking of teacher education institutions. Strengthening of SCERT for research in innovative practices and experiments for school education is urgently needed. A State Board of Teacher Education (POA-1992) for effective role in maintaining the standard of teacher training institutions and teacher recruitment should be set up in the State.

Our vision of 2020 in Education can only be actualised and its goals delivered by a firm commitment of all those who are involved viz, the Government, the local community, the Panchayat Raj Institutions, local self governance institutions in the urban and rural areas, District Councils in the hills. The students must strive to learn and the teachers must strive to teach.

It calls for participatory management structure from the grass-root level upwards. Expeditious and informed decision making, planning and execution of the reform initiative in the School, quick decision making and speedy implementation are essential to engender a culture for facilitating the development of the School Education System in the State. This would necessitate decentralised management structure and devolution of authority and funds to the Panchayati Raj and local self governance institutions.

The essence of the good governance lies in bringing ownership of the schools to the community for their effective functioning. Evidently a responsive Government, accountable to the people, and known for its transparency will make all the difference. Government provisioning and community management, in fact, should be the essence of the reform initiatives in the School System, ensuring the spread of education and its development in the coming years. This calls for a firm determination and political will to translate the aspirations and expectation of the people.

An overview of the state of affairs of education of our State reveals a disappointing picture. The Schools run and managed by the State Government have steadily neglected the learning process diluted over the years leading to deterioration in the quality of education. The middle class is alienated from the State schools by sending their children to private expensive English medium schools.

Possibly excepting a few Catholic Mission Schools, most of the private Schools are run as business enterprises- and parents are resorting to home tuition of their wards incurring extreme expenditure. In most cases they are beyond the means of the poorer sections of the society. Thus State schools mostly serve the children of the economically marginalised groups only.

In State Govt schools, lack of infrastructural resources, unkempt school buildings, class rooms and furniture, demotivating work environment, teacher absenteeism, non-inspection and supervision, lack of accountability, overloaded curriculum, unfriendly textbooks, oppressive teaching methods and exacting examination are the common features. As per Report of the 6th All India Education Survey-1993, only 9.63% of Primary Schools have pucca buildings and in the Upper Primary Schools 25.81 % have pucca buildings and rest are semi-pucca, kutcha structures and huts.

In the Secondary Schools 25.81% have pucca buildings and the rest are semi­pucca and kutcha buildings. Most of the schools lack adequate classrooms, playgrounds, libraries, teaching aids, safe drinking water and proper toilet facilities. In our State, we have 12.16% of habitations covering 5.88% of the population still unserved by a Primary School within 1 Km.

The National Human Development Report 2002 estimates drop-out rate in 1998-99 in classes I to V at 52.59%, in Classes I to VIII at 46.15% and in classes I to X at 76.54% respectively. On perusal of High School Leaving Certificate Examination results conducted by the Board of Secondary Eduyation, Manipur for the last five years from 2001 to 2005, it was found that the pass percentage ranged from 21.19% to 39.00% only. There is an alarmingly high drop-out rate and a huge wastage in School Education in Manipur.

Many of our Secondary Schools are returning with zero per cent pass rate in High School Leaving Certificate Examinations for several years! These problems are to be addressed and remedial measures are to be taken up immediately.

The task for reconstruction of education system in our State is stupendous. A feasible programme of educational goals and objectives for the short-term as well as the long—time frame ie, 2020 would require a survey of the Educational Scene in the State within the broad national educational framework and setting of milestones of achievements to be realised in order to make the Vision 2020 a reality.

For this purpose we can propose a great debate among the stakeholders of education—parents, teachers, intellectuals, educationists, community leaders, NGOs, VEC members, student organisations, Govt officials and functionaries of education, media representatives etc. This work is to be entrusted to a State Level Task Force properly constituted by the State Govt for this purpose. On the basis of recommendations of this Task Force a State Policy on Education should emerge and be implemented in order to realise our Vision of 2020-Manipur.


* Dr S Gyaneswar Singh wrote the article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on August 06 2010.

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