The loss of educational values in certain areas

R.K. Tarachand *

Student of Khongjom Standard English School :: Nov 16-17 2009
Student of Khongjom Standard English School :: Nov 16-17 2009

"For starters we were bombarded with the idea that in order to become 'modern' we must learn to speak in Hindi. After more than fifty years, it seems we have made little progress, the only sense of relief being..."

Educational values which we considered, in our childhood, as values blessed by Gods, has now become grey areas where the latent talents of our youth fume, fret and eddies. Till the mid 1950s education in Manipur was considered a sacred act which had to be pertained in order to steal a step into modernity. It was considered by all to be almost a religious step, a step vitally required to understand the world with which we are entwined to.

It was indeed a structured world, a world in which only the best could pose queries, and the rest of us had to listen, watch and learn. It was a world where teachers ruled the roost and no waywardness or slight of the dominance of knowledge or wisdom was ever contemplated. Because of our uncertainty of an ordered method of acquiring knowledge within a matrix, we struggled gamely and did ourselves proud.

As a nation, we had been infused with discipline and obedience, much against the grain of our shifty nature to life, we were being forged into a semblance of unity, sanity and purpose, propelled as it were, by the forces of ordered education. And then came that low cunning blow in the form of modernity as postulated by a free India.

In a historical scale this foul blow laid low Manipuri society counted out within a second. Free India strew paper flowers which promised 'proper and correctly nationalised' education as against an 'imperialistic and demeaning form of education which only served to demean ourselves'. These phrases within quotes had a meaning for mainland India.

After all these were the consummations of the ideas of people like Tagore, Sorojini Naidu, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Asutosh Mukherjee and the ilk.

In Manipur's case strange people clad in Khadi and Gandhi caps, forever spewing the then latest mantra of 'Inqilab Zindabad' plucked out the delicate blossoms so carefully nurtured by Manipur's beloved sons like Lamabam Kamal and Khwairakpam Chaoba.

These characters in Gandhi caps, not satisfied with the shaking off of the British were always tremulously tearful of Gandhism and the way Mohandas sidelined the British; they strove to do better. In fact, long after the British left India for good, our Manipuri Gandhians kept on shouting 'Inquilab Zindabad', 'Long live the revolution'. But the nuisance did not stop there, they would not rest until they damaged the education system itself. They ultimately succeeded, and what a fall was that for us, my countrymen.

For starters we were bombarded with the idea that in order to become 'modern' we must learn to speak in Hindi. After more than fifty years, it seems we have made little progress, the only sense of relief being, that mainland Indians too have been unable to overcome the cultural and linguistic hurdle of having to say quickly Manipuri words like 'manga', five, or 'ngan-na lak-u', come early, or for that matter trying to explain he would prefer a fish 'nga' curry. On any side, we have miles to go before we smile.

But to come back to our orginal story. The real body blow dealt by our bizarre Indian wannabees was to cut our burgeoning system of modern education. The very people who had become intellectually intelligible because of the English oriented education to which they had been subjected to, now wanted their children to be educated in an Indian atmosphere. Unfortunately this did not turn about to be as simplistic as it sounded to be.

In reality we were changing horses mid stream. What took the British about 90 years or so to enable us to read, write and educate ourselves in the English language, our leaders with the wherewithal of modernity, within a few decades, have forcibly led us through the torrents of change, and left us high and dry stripped bare of our 'clothing' of education and culture.

These adventurous 'Indians' then acted to bring home the roots and ethics of their imagined 'glorious system of education'. To cut back the tears, this had an inherent structural flaw. 'Sending out' their children became a part and parcel of institutionalizing modern education.

Unfortunately only about 2% of those who went outside Manipur in search of the elixir of that heady stuff called 'proper education' came back with any semblance of universal knowledge. Less than a fraction of that 2% could be coaxed to become teachers. Fanned by their doting parents they aspired to be Caesars, and wealthy ones at that.

Truth, that cruel reality, however intervened, and the less precious ones became police officers, who however thrived in that muck called 'modern Manipur' and became the real money mongers of Manipur.

Stepping in edgewise, are our freshly painted masters of 'English' really that meaningful? Suddenly it has become fashionable for young Muslim children studying in 'English' schools to sing song 'Johnny Johnny?', 'Yes Papa', 'Eating Sugar?', 'No Papa'.

We are in the midst of creating a strange type of educated people. If at all you feel you are truly fed up with life and you feel ending your life would do more meaning than breathing, then, please, gentle reader, go through the prescribed English textbooks for High School students in Manipur. At the very least, your final days in life will be mirthful, to say the least. "We Manipuris speaks good English", right ?

* R.K. Tarachand wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on May 20, 2012 .

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