Corruption of lairik-laisu
- Part 1 -

Erendro Leichombam & Biju Leishangthem *

In 1962, US President John F. Kennedy welcomed a group of forty-nine Nobel laureates to the White Housesaying:"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

Thomas Jefferson was a Founding Father of America and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, whose revolutionary ideals literally shook the world,and brought down Empiresto their knees. The Jeffersonian democratic philosophy can be summed up thus, in his own words: "[There is] no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society other than the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."

Education is an agent of social evolution, it is the path to liberation from oppression; it empowers us to achieve a just, and free society. An educated mind will ask critical questions, and it takes ownership, and ultimately takes action to find solutions. Without education, a talented and trained population may end up merely as useful utilitarian tools.

A plethora of studies have confirmed the strong correlation between development and education. Needless to mention that the world is moving fast towards a "knowledge-based society," where nations that invest on education secure their future, and prepare to meet complex challenges ahead. The need, therefore, for greater emphasis on education is all the more today.

During the colonial period, the primary objective of Western education in Indiawas producing "Brown Englishmen or Cheap Clerks." The big question today, therefore, is: has there been any substantial change since? Unfortunately, it seems, the colonial hangover continues in our educational system. As a result, India does poorly in most of the International comparisons.

On PISA (Program of International Students Assessment) rankings, an important tool for measuring educational systems, and on QS University rankings, India sits at the bottom. Even the so-called premier institutes of India such as the IITs and IIMs do not find a decent place in these rankings. The main reason for suchmiserable performance is the emphasis on rote learning; a modelpoor in critical and conceptual learning but focused on achievingmarks/grades/ scores—what is often referred to as "teaching to the tests."

What, then, is the state of education in Manipur? Before we even analyze the quality of our education, before we examine its content and quality, from the outset, we must observe if our primary school system, the base of the pyramid on which rests all our human resources, is performing the bare minimum functions it is designed for.

According to data collected between 2010 and 2016 in Manipur (ASER 2016), we observed that on average nearly 44% of all govt. run primary schools had 60 students enrolled or less. The figure is even worse for lower primary schools (Class I to V) where nearly 74% of all schools had an enrollment of 60 students or less. As of today, over 70% of all primary students attend private schools in Manipur, while only 26% remain in govt. schools.

Of this remaining 26%, the student absenteeism rate was 42%. The data is clearly pointing to a few facts:
(1) Each year more students are switchingfrom govt. schools to private schools in Manipur;
(2) That policy makers keep pouring a disproportionate chunk of our budget into a massively leaked bucket;
(3) These schools primarily benefit the "teachers" who are on the govt. payroll without accountability or performance;
(4) Families are spending more on primary education, while still paying taxes to cover for these dysfunctional govt. primary schools.

There are about 3,400 primary and upper primary schools in Manipur (Class IVIII), which indicates that about 1,500 govt. schools are"operating" with less than 60 students or less and an average 20-25 teaching and non-teaching staffs each. Nearly INR 50 Crores are spent for primary education alone annually. While the exact number of primary school teachers is unknown, a rough estimate put the figure above 30,000.

Even beyond this number, ongoing govt. teachers' recruitments and their sickening scandalous process continue. The same data confirms that at any given school day, nearly 50% of the teachers were missing from their jobs, and that 49% of the schools were not implementing the mid-day meal programs. The menace, most probably, runs much deeper, and the reality is much worse.

The authors, of this piece, visited several randomly picked govt. primary schools to incorporate as case studies. During such visits, these schools had far lesser teacher turn out. At one school, teachers were seen playing ludo while the students were left completely unattended, left to their own devices. At one of the bigger govt. schools, the teachers hurriedly cut short their morning assembly and huddled the kids into a classroom when we tried to click a picture of the dismal gathering (hardly 7- 8 students).

In such schools, teachers often inflate the number of their student enrollment, and attendance, to give a rosier picture. Teachers conspiring with each other to sign off their attendance logs with fake signatures during their absence are common. Proxy teachers are a norm in rural and hilly areas. It was observed that over 80% of teachers in Ukhrul district alone were proxy teachers.

This is the reality of primary education in Manipur. An educated population must ponder these:
(1) What happened to half of the meals intended for our children?
(2) Have we become such lowly thieves that we are stealing food from the mouths of children?
(3) If a school has failed to enroll even 20 students, why havethese teachers maintained a deafening silence? Are they allowed to speak up and protest only when their salaries are delayed?
(4) That a culture of entitlementhas trickled down to the primary school system; and most importantly
(5) We are fostering a beneficiary economy; the very teachers who are supposed to shape the future pillars of our society are becoming corrupt beneficiaries of undeserved privileges.

This is truly the tragic state of education in Manipur today enmeshed with a culture of selling our individual sovereignties, our democratic rights, for breadcrumbs. And the current Manipuri political oligarchy feels zero incentive to reform our educational system because the status-quo benefits them, it disempowers the population and monopolizes this "depository of the ultimate powers" to themselves.

We should be enraged by such lowly thievery. We need to stop turning a blind eye, shrugging it off with an apathetic attitude that it's someone else's job. It's truly the "tragedy of the commons," which in economic theory is defined as "a situation, within a shared-resource system, where individual users acting independently according to their own selfinterest, behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action."

Education begins with the mentors, it starts with the respect and priority we placed on teaching professionals. Only anenlightened crop of teachers can spawn a generation of enlightened population.If we take the example of Finland, teaching is considered the most admired profession next only to the medical doctors. Finnish teachers are required to get atleast a master's degree (5 years of training) with specialization in research and classroom practices at the elite schools.

Finnish teachers are given complete autonomy to innovate and experiment, freeing them from regulations or red-tape. Nationally designed curriculum serves more as a guideline than a strict prescription. Teachers are encouraged to experiment with new approaches in order to improve learning, such as "self-assessments" (students write daily narratives on their learning and progress), "peer assessments"(students are guided to offer positive feedback and constructive suggestions to each other), and personalized learning; a teacher teaches the same group of students for years building mutual understanding, stronger bonds, and greater accountability.

** The article is an excerpt from PRJA's weekly discussion meetings—Wakhaloi Meepham

To be continued....

* Erendro Leichombam & Biju Leishangthem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on June 27, 2017.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • Binota Thokchom at BRICS Young Scientist
  • The Merger of Manipur
  • Improving school management in Manipur
  • Pros & cons of screening tests
  • NPF Rejoinder on 18th June
  • Nagaland CM statement on Aboi ambush
  • June 18 significance: Still living on prayer
  • Need to identify one's strength
  • 18 Immortal Souls Remembered : Flash
  • The Great June Uprising : Read all about it
  • The Pitfalls of Identity Politics
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • All his sons :: Poem
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
  • Eid bring cheer in flood hit areas
  • Willong Khullen, Maram #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Defending the environmental defenders
  • Delusion in self - cause of worry
  • Road to Russia: FIFA World Cup
  • It must be love :: Poem
  • 'Future of Naga people is bleak'
  • Give a miss call to Amnesty
  • 'Naga area' bandh on June 18
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Fitr Festival
  • Letter to PM Modi on Naga Talks
  • Greetings on Eid-Ul-Fitr
  • Rejoinder to NPF statement
  • Rejoinder to Nagaland Chief Minister
  • Flood relief continue on 3rd day
  • India-Vietnam Youth Dialogue 2018
  • MU debacle: Why would it be left unnoticed
  • Spirit of World Cup : Brazil to Russia
  • NEC to come under Home Ministry
  • Manipur NGO hosts summit on LGBTQ
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Women Struggle in Self-Determination
  • 14 June- World Blood Donor Day
  • Naga Integration not possible- NPF react
  • Naga Integration is not possible- CM Rio
  • Relief work in flood affected areas
  • A day which keeps our spirit alive
  • Ranked 320 in the country : MU
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Irenna, Zeinorn, Ithoibi :: eMing
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #5
  • Be alert: It's admission time
  • Yin and Yang
  • Watermelon beauty benefits
  • Temp accommodation for Aligarh students
  • Wrath of Mother Nature: Why challenge..
  • 60 pc is no longer first class : 95 pc
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Sanamahi Laihui & Sanamahi Laining
  • Kuhi- Essential plant for Nungbi pottery
  • Climate justice is integral to development
  • The bridge :: Poem
  • Lt S Vijaya Devi felicitated
  • Then : Indifferent :: Now : Hyper sensitive
  • Phumdigi Tantha : Dance Drama : Gallery
  • Grief at Xavier Rutsa's demise
  • Modi's India: A descend into Ochlocracy
  • The Philippine Experience
  • Cry of a Dying River #33 :: Poem
  • Community Iftar at Moijing, Cachar
  • Candle Light at DU over Assam lynching
  • Demand replacement of Manipur Univ VC
  • The Tragedy of Higher education
  • Unacceptable points spelt out
  • Teinem Luira Phanit @Ukhrul #3: Gallery
  • RPL-PMKVY trainees @Hojai : Gallery
  • Manipur Sports University in UP ?
  • Coloniality of the Postcolonial
  • Yellow leaves in the autumn :: Poem
  • Prof N Irabanta-distinguished academician
  • Leadership matters
  • Artificial turf for budding talents
  • 2 municipal bodies in NE awarded
  • Who is Arambam Somorendra ?
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #2
  • Grass root challenge- Education in hills
  • Earth does not belong to us...
  • Sita Mata as test-tube baby
  • What happen to VIP Culture Mr. CM
  • Merchants of education
  • Laitonjam Rajnikanta : Profile
  • A blessing to see :: Poem
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #4
  • Difference between Hinduism & Hindutva
  • How to choose the perfect fragrance
  • Iftaar party at Lilong
  • Bitter truth of Manipuri society
  • MU, NSU, IGNTU : Students at the centre
  • Amuktang-Ga Haikho #1 : eRang
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #2 : Gallery
  • Pony : A Cavalry Horse Par Excellence #2
  • Issues that keep Manipur burning
  • Cry of a Dying River - 32 :: Poem
  • CM & AR interaction with villagers
  • Certification of PMKVY trainees of Hojai
  • Christian appeals for Peace in Shillong
  • How safe are our women?
  • Riders put up by JAC for talk
  • Khangkhui Cave in Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Pluralism, Democracy & Ethnic Relation #2
  • Irom Sharmila meets with Mehbooba Mufti
  • JRF @ Mizoram University (Biotechnology)
  • Tobacco and heart disease
  • Understanding SOWA - RIGPA #2
  • Campaign "to End Child Sexual Abuse"
  • Implementation of 7th Pay
  • Indigenous street vendor sing gi wafam
  • The crumbling Manipur University
  • Kang Tournament @ Yaiskul : Gallery
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #1
  • A rainy night :: Poem
  • HSLC Exam is the start! What next?
  • World Environment Day: Thoubal, Chandel
  • 1528 cases of fake encounter
  • Shifting tide
  • Sharmila calls on JK CM Mehbooba
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #1
  • Handloom Weaver @Bishnupur : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Hinduism in Manipur : Political Perspective
  • World Environment Day at Sendra
  • All the World and his Wife :: Poem
  • Two Shaft Handloom Weaver at Bishnupur
  • Career Guidance Workshop at Ukhrul
  • Rejoinder: on Vigilance Commissioner
  • Appointment of Vigilance Commissioner
  • Towards the brighter side of Technology.
  • MU in the news for wrong reasons
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Women in CCpur turn to self-help groups
  • Fear and Worry
  • Rongmei Scholars Association formed
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Deteriorating politics in Manipur University
  • Purul Paoki Wrestling : Gallery
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #1 : Gallery
  • Devolution of power to PRIs
  • Khangminashi IV (Lecture) : Report
  • Seminar at MU - Hinduism in Manipur'
  • Northeast: Issues at Stake #2
  • Thietham - A story of grit of a girl
  • Daylight robbery: Will the govt wait..
  • Date with Dy CM : Was it prudent?
  • On FIR against NPF President
  • Yepthomi - winner in Nagaland Lok Sabha
  • Evolution of The Meetei State
  • Heartbreak at Ukhrul: Unfolding Shirock
  • Bacteria, pathogenic bacteria..
  • Drafting Bill for Protection of Manipuri
  • Cry of a Dying River - 31 :: Poem
  • Char saal Modiji sarkar :: WJ
  • Imran Khan signed by FC Goa
  • The mental equation
  • State Level Khurpui-Lam Festival: Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • School Girls Basketball #2 : Gallery
  • Course in Political Science at NEHU
  • Where is Manipur....???
  • 'Manipur' in Google maps : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Mama Poktabi :: Funga Wari
  • Veterans Football Tournament #2 : Gallery
  • Kishon & Taka Tamut scaled Mt. Everest
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Sougrakpam Vijaya makes history sailing...
  • Arunachali unfurled Salai Taret at Mt Everest
  • Panthoiba: 2nd Rank- class XII, Uttarkhand
  • Ras Leela @JNMDA Day : Gallery
  • HSLC 208 Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • HSLC 2018 :: Toppers Listing
  • HSLC 2018 :: Check Result
  • HSLC :: Statistical/Subject Topper
  • HSLC 2018 :: External
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #2 : Gallery
  • Kakching Garden :: 360 Panorama View
  • Folk Dance Festival #5 : Gallery
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Governor's Taekwondo Cup: Gallery
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #2: Gallery
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Sandrembi Cheishra :: Book Review
  • Ngasepam Nalini : State Akademi Award
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Kh Sanjita & Saikhom Mirabai :: Gallery
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic