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.

  • Tribes, Art & Soul of India #1: Gallery
  • Rally against Mob Lynching #1: Gallery
  • 'Sahnit' an honour or a disgrace
  • Irabot : Socio-Political Challenges
  • Training employees for better governance
  • Blue Ocean :: Poem
  • Sextortion: Making money from shame
  • Condemn murder of Neiphretuo Metsie
  • Social lacunae
  • BJP on poll drive at Imphal, Kohima
  • Mary Kom lost 2 kg in 4 hours
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #2
  • Felicitation of Sportsperson: Gallery
  • ICJ: Investigation of Extrajudicial Killing
  • Legal profession as career option #2
  • Loktak Down Stream HE Project (2x33MW)
  • Protest against mob lynching at DU
  • Ripples of Music :: Poem
  • Memo submitted to CM over lynching
  • Poems of Peace, Resistance ...
  • Helicopter Schedule for Imphal-Jiri
  • Mirabai recommended for Khel Ratna
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #3: Gallery
  • Manipur State is still winning..
  • Gazetteer of North-East India :: Book
  • Sunfeast Cup Football Tournament
  • Trip down memory lane
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Folk Song :: Poem
  • The Endureres at Dwarka Half Marathon
  • Main accused in cop slaying nabbed
  • Naga talks not confined to Nagaland..
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1 : Gallery
  • Rest in Peace Humanity
  • Ph Banti's artwork 'Trafficking of children'
  • Cry of a Dying River - 45 :: Poem
  • Buddhism is not a religion
  • Jobs at R-Square Design
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Candle Light at DU over lynching
  • Society as a reflection of govt
  • Mobocracy : Shame on Manipur
  • Kuki Black Day @CCpur : Gallery
  • miAoIbgi pNTuH :: Seireng
  • Apikcha, Apaiba, Tinilung :: eMing
  • An opinion on Tharoijam killing
  • How Manipur lost internal autonomy, Kabaw
  • Admission for PhD at Tripura Univ
  • Meefam ST at Nambol, Khangabok
  • Importance of Forest & Environment
  • Deep social divide: Two different folks?
  • Kuki Black Day: Kukis Will never forget
  • R & V Art House's First Art Fest 2018
  • Celebrating International Literacy Day, 2018
  • Born a Kuki, die a Kuki :: Poem
  • History of North East India :: Book
  • Will SimpliciTB make TB treatment simpler
  • Meefam chathaduna ST gi issue..
  • Dipankar Talukdar- Mr Model of World Star
  • System error- who will fix Broken Window
  • Reshuffle Talks : Say No to Yes Me
  • India negotiating vehicle pact with Myanmar
  • Chalwa Village, Kangpokpi #2 : Gallery
  • Thien & its downfall in Zeliangrong #2
  • Is FA a self exposed daylight robbery?
  • Nation Needs Small Farmers
  • Who is programming you ?
  • Bandhs as dissent & survival of laziest
  • Looking for Raju :: Poem
  • The cry of the 2nd class citizen
  • Bharat Bandh in Imphal
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #1
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #2 : Gallery
  • Naga-Kuki conflict: Search for definitions
  • Mega Marathon Manipur : Download Form
  • Legal profession as career option
  • Guv felicitates 5 JAK RIF for flood relief
  • Stored Anger :: Book Review
  • On stepping into the 20th year of TSE
  • Sept - month which reinstated our courage
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON #2 : Gallery
  • Empty :: Poem
  • Lets beat littering - plastics pollution
  • NEHU Seminar : Urbanization in India
  • Jobs at JCRE Skill Solutions
  • Declaration of Naga Collective Spirit [Sep 8]
  • Akanba Khongjangidamak Yathokpa Loire
  • Support for STDC from UMA, Assam
  • 'Deplorable power supply in Nagaland'
  • Tryst with destiny - Should we accept ?
  • Stand off at MU : Impact on LS Poll
  • Exploring the enthralling Tuilha Kol
  • Kamesh Salam : Outstanding Green Activist
  • The Valley Of Brahmaputra :: Book
  • Development of road database
  • The inner page story :: Poem
  • Kakching WW-II Memorial Run 2018
  • STDC public meeting at Langathel Keithel
  • Maibi Jagoi at Sangai Fest : Gallery
  • My poll without prejudice to anyone
  • MEETAC - Mission for streamlining TK
  • Conditions leading to Marxism
  • Heart Camp at Khelakhong, Thoubal
  • Cyber bully: Crime that follows you home
  • Bhupen Hazarika : Tribute at London
  • AEP & Importance of Myanmar & NE
  • Political pandemonium
  • Students central to MU issue
  • Landscape from Koubru #2 : Gallery
  • Leishangthem Robert for Mr. World 2018
  • Oinam Shilla Chanu at Mrs India Earth
  • North-east Frontier Of India :: Book
  • Thien & its downfall in Zeliangrong #1
  • Cry of a Dying River - 44 :: Poem
  • JRF Post at Mizoram University
  • Honours to Bamboo; a ubiquitous gift
  • Case of hunter now being huntedr
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #3 : Gallery
  • Women Empowerment & judicial Activism
  • Narin Chenggum - wild edible mushroom
  • Flying Star at your lips :: Poem
  • Out of the box thinking
  • Call centre fraud: Vicious vishing attack
  • Changing India & its impact on Manipur
  • MU stand off gets uglier
  • Tikendrajit : The Lion of Manipur #4
  • Krishna Janma @Mahabali #1 : Gallery
  • Eastern Frontier of India :: Book Review
  • Remembering Radhakrishnan ..
  • Moments to cherish :: Poem
  • Glimpse of the Buddha's teaching
  • NH7 Weekender Express Editions
  • Rejoinder to NDPP from NPF [05 Sep]
  • Mental equation
  • Are teachers teaching ? Apt, timely poser
  • Sirarakhong Hathei Phanit @Ukhrul : Gallery
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #1 : Gallery
  • Globalization, Act East Policy & Manipur
  • Review on anthology of Parthajit Borah
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Child Friendly Police Stations proposed
  • ADBU Goes Green with Solar Energy
  • Convocation of Assam Don Bosco
  • Fetal Echocardiography - Seminar held
  • Rejoinder to NPF from NDPP [04 Sep]
  • Divide, divert and rule will not work
  • FA, MU crisis : Issues before LS polls
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON #1 : Gallery
  • Komrem Student Day @Bangalore : Gallery
  • September Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • The Coils of Pakhangba :: Book
  • Physics Program in Don Bosco, Tura
  • Condemns MU VC's vindictive stance
  • 'Policy of India to suppress people'
  • NDPP congratulates Abu Metha
  • Pandey back at MU! Violating spirit of MoA
  • Exhibition @ Art College #2: Gallery
  • AMWJU Sit-In-Protest : Gallery
  • Shri Krishna Janmasthami :: Book
  • Life's heck :: Poem
  • Environment & lung health are vital
  • Innovation for the common man
  • Humanitarian crisis with NRC in Assam
  • Rejoinder to NDPP from NPF [02 Sep]
  • Jangou Rah : eRang Classic
  • The Story of 40 Pineapple Suckers
  • Rebirth of Manipur Human Rights Comm
  • Yumkhaibam Nanao Eramdam Yaourakhre
  • Lecture: Governance & Public Services
  • X-rated poem :: Poem
  • Ningol Chakkouba Celebration in Delhi
  • Baton changes hands at IGAR (South)
  • Rejoinder to NPF from NDPP [01 Sept]
  • A Wake-up call
  • Lok Sabha polls : More crucial for BJP
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #2: Gallery
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #2 : Gallery
  • The World of Kuki People :: Book
  • Effects of the Burning of Meitei Puyas
  • Soil Technician required at MaolKeki
  • Jr. Mr. India 2018, Gyanendra Thokchom
  • Rejoinder to HTC & allies' statement
  • Consensual sex..Does it amount to rape ?
  • Need for all to keep their sanity
  • Sanagi Tenawa :: Funga Wari
  • MU: Den of Insurgents or Den of Ideas?
  • Can NRC Update save Assam and NE ?
  • Victim of Enforced Disappearances
  • Admission for Ph.D. at Tripura University
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #1: Gallery
  • Physics Program in Don Bosco College
  • Resolution: Right of Human Right Defender
  • Advancing rights of Human Right Defender
  • Dolaithabi Dam , Senapati : Gallery
  • Eid-Ul-Adhaa Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #1 : Gallery
  • 47th Nagas Annual Meet at Mumbai
  • Transcending Patriots' Day(s) #4
  • Sangai Fest: Fashion Show #2 : Gallery
  • Tikendrajit : The Lion of Manipur #3
  • Dr. Jodhachandra Sanasam : Sahitya
  • Architects announces 1st MADE 2018
  • Expedite FA Rally #2 : Gallery
  • Billie's Book by Ranjeeta Mayanglambam
  • Shougrakpam Bijaya :: A Profile
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Disputed Myanmar Border Pillar : Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #3: Gallery
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic