A representation : On certain weak areas of the state educational system singled out for treatment
- Part 1 -

Dr AK Chishti *

Board of Secondary Education, Manipur in 2011
Board of Secondary Education, Manipur in 2011

While extending a hearty welcome to the bold initiative taken by the new Education Minister for bringing about a healthy change in the state educational scenario by involving the people in educational planning and administration with an open appeal to the students, teachers, parents, educationists, civil societies etc. for suggestions including among others – the possible measures for improvements of any weak area of the educational system, the Association of Premier State College Seniors within the limited time available wishes to present this rejoinder based on a comprehensive appraisal of the State Education in Manipur before the year 1976 and thereafter with some suggestions for improvement and further development of the education.

While making direct relevance of education to the life of the people is the policy and planning of the Union of India, the British education system introduced in our kingdom during their rule served the purpose of running the administration with local hands trained for the clerical job. The trend continued even when the kingdom became a part of the Union of India. Educational institutions under the management and control of State Govt. were limited; some LP Schools, ME Schools, High Schools and a College (estd. in 1946) were there to impart general education to the state children and youths.

Some of our parents were the products of those institutions. In the early days they had to go outside the kingdom to sit in the Matriculation Examinations by traveling on foot or by bullock carts. Tongjeimaril road and Imphal-Dimapur road were the only communication lines. It was under a pathetic condition that they struggled for the certificates and the degrees in those days. Some among them studied further outside the kingdom up to graduate level or beyond before the DM College was estd. It was some of the undergrads and grads who after returning home endeavored to open some more schools for spreading general education in their land, hills and plain. As the institutions absorbed the educated sons of the soil the problem of employment was also solved.

Two sets of institutions came into existence very soon: the Govt. run schools and Pvt. run schools. It is heartening to see that both the sets maintained the standard of education qualitatively and quantitatively though of course, the govt. schools were of higher status and were more prestigious. Thanks to the managements with high sense of dedication and responsibility. With the poor salary and working conditions, the teachers and non- teaching staff particularly in the Pvt./ Aided schools discharged their duties to the best of their ability .Thus the teaching community commanded full respect from the society. More institutions in the urban areas came up gradually.

Some of the taken over colleges by the Govt. in 1977 and onwards were established in the late '50s before the mushroom growth of colleges and schools took place in the State on commercial and political considerations creating an unprecedented situation resulting into the lowering of educational standard and miseries that followed. It became a difficult time for the Govt. also to save the original Govt. schools and colleges with high reputations in the East. The Education Secretariat Dept. and the Directorate of Education became too overburdened.

What was going on outside the State –the scene in other States and the framing of policy and planning by the Centre for the entire country and programmes to be taken up by the States, the establishment of UGC, the coming up of National Policy on Education 1968 followed by the inclusion of education in the Concurrent List through an Amendment of the Constitution –a landmark decision so and so forth, was to the said department a moving satellite to see in the sky during day time. The tragedy was that our administrative education department with a local intellectual as the secretary education did not care to study even the UGC scheme for the higher education adopted by the parliament for implementation in the State in that 80 p.c. of the additional expenditure was to be borne by the Centre.

Even the concept and philosophy of the scheme was not clear to the Education Secretary who was rather expected to welcome with enthusiasm the change in the policy of Higher Education in the country. Such and such other officers unfit for the job have been running the show that blunder after blunder they committed in heaps brought the present state of education in the State that is what we mean by the state's predicament. The Govt. has not been able to settle the issue of seniority created in those days between the employees of original govt. institutions and taken over institutions that the appointments of D.E (U), Chairmen in the equivalent posts etc. are not made on regular basis still.

An officer of the MCS or IAS rank should not be entrusted with such a difficult job of Education Secretary simply because he belongs to the category. Experience demands that there are post graduate degree holders in different subjects, likewise doctors in different fields of specializations, the IAS in education, the IAS in finance etc. should be introduced and they be given training before appointments against such posts. A thought should be given to this suggestion.

The Govt. / Administration has suffered enough because of the non-existence of such officers with specialization and efficiency. Problem of educational reconstruction is not an easy job. It needed review after review by several commissions and committees notably the University Grants Commission and Secondary Education Commission. It became imperative for the nation to evolve the NPE, 1968 and after review the NPE 1986 and now the NPE 1992. It was to bring a radical reconstruction of Education on the broad outlines recommended by the Commission for economic and cultural development of the country, for national integration and for realizing the ideal of a socialistic pattern of society.

This involves a transformation of the system to relate it more closely to the life of the citizens; a continuous effort to expand the educational opportunities; a sustained and intensive effort to raise the quality of education at all stages; an emphasis on the development of science and technology and cultivation of moral and social values.

According to the Recommendation the education system must produce young men and women of character and ability committed to national service and advancement. Only then will the education be able to play its vital role in promoting the national integration which is necessary if the country is to attain its rightful place in the comity of nations. All the responsible officers are expected to inculcate this feeling and ideal and they should prove their credentials before a Body like the State Advisory Board of Education which is still to be constituted in line with NPE.

Of all the factors which determine the quality of education and its contribution to the national development, the teacher is undoubtedly the most important as the NPE stressed. It is on the teacher's personal quality and character and his educational qualifications and professional competence and leadership as well that the success of all individual endeavors must ultimately depend. Teachers must therefore be accorded an honored place and position in the society, the NPE acknowledges. The emoluments and other service condition should be adequate and satisfactory having regard to their qualification and responsibilities. Teacher education particularly in service education should receive due emphasis. Teacher should also be more responsive than before and they should face accountability.

It has been the Govt. of India's strong policy that there should not be regional imbalances in the provision of educational facilities and educational opportunities. Educational development in the North Eastern Region is a special consideration for us. The planning commission has the record of approving projects in the educational sector State and Central sector involving crores of rupees for funding from the non lapsable pool of central resources. We don't simply know how many of us are aware of this consideration.

The reconstruction of education on the lines indicated above will need additional outlay. The aim should be gradually to increase the investment in education so as to reach a level of expenditure of 6 p.c. of the National Income as early as possible. We have every reason of being confident that the Government of India will surely assist the state Govt. for the development programmes where coordinated action on the parts of the state and the center is called for.

Our Administrative Education Dept. should take up such programmes without any hesitation and delay and the public should be kept informed without fail. Only some people having vested interest should not be allowed to take advantage and the privilege of knowing things. We are all stake holders in the joint venture as seen by the new Education Minister.

This article is submitted to the Honorable Minister of Education, Manipur by Association of Premier State College Seniors (APSCS) Manipur

To be continued...

* Dr AK Chishti wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is General Secretary, Association of Premier State College Seniors.
This article was posted on September 10, 2014.

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