Primary education in Manipur is not so prime but a fiasco.

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Primary education in Manipur is not so prime but a fiasco.
By Bishwajit Okram.

The vital source of a nation’s strength is education. A good education system is like a gold mine of the nation. Manipur is yet to discover this mine, unfortunately.

Education precedes development always. Elementary and primary schools of a nation are the stepping stones of a good education system.

Neglecting this system at the start of the system and dreaming of 100% literacy one day, is like the story of a foolish dreamer kicking his milk pot.

By just mere analysing of few data, one can easily assess – there is a black hole in the primary education system in Manipur. It looks the system is severely paralysed and dysfunctional. It is a mouse click away for anyone to understand the state of primary education system

The symptoms are palpable and can be clearly vouched from the lackadaisical nature of the education ministry’s website itself.

Mr L.Jayanta Kumar who is still sitting there in the web page of the ministry of education as the minister, has been replaced by Mr DD Thaisii a year back. It is appalling at this advance informatics age; such a small change could not be made duly.

Apart from this, many of the information shown in the website are junk and irrelevant; it is very frustrating when one tries to get some relevant information.

This website is the mirror of our education ministry and our education system that we all endure of.

The inefficiency and the ineffectiveness of the ministry’s website are just the tips of the iceberg manifesting the underlying fiasco of our education system. The purpose of this article is to understand and analyse this fiasco from.

UNESCO found in its reports, only 83% of eligible elementary school pupils of India are enrolled in elementary schools in the year 2009.

But, for Manipur, it is 96%, according to a report, ‘Education Profile of Manipur’ based on Government of Manipur official data. It is a bit weird and absurd, this author himself visited some primary schools in Manipur during the month of November, and all he found was no pupil or a handful of pupils in every school he visited.

The Hindustan Times on 17 January, ran a head line “Fake admission brings down enrolments in Schools across India.” This report unearth scandalous, fake enrolment list of school pupils in government schools across the country. This author’s own eyes have verified this in Manipur.

According to Assessment Survey Research Centre Report (www.asercentre.org) 2009, in all India level, 69% of enrolment level in school takes place in government schools and 25% in private Schools. But it is just the opposite for Manipur. Manipuri’s enrolment in private school is 65% and in government school is 31%. The 2012 report from the same sources reveals –enrolment in government school has gone down from 31% of 2009 to 27% during the year 2011. It is plausible to think why!

At the same time the report says that there has been a surge in enrolment from 264019 pupils of 1991 to 285580 of 2001 and to 324096 of 2006, based on the Government of Manipur data. If this is to be believed, most of the enrolment are then happening in private schools.

The report, ‘Education Profile of Manipur’ added, “65% of the children who enrolled for class 1 never reach class V; 71% of them do not make it to class VIII”.

The Indian Express, in its 17 January print, a report goes the heading “Half of class 5 kids can’t read class 2 texts”. The Hindu says, “Class III students do not know simple mathematics of subtractions.”

Amid these facts, Manipur government claims that literacy rate of Manipur is 70%. Something amiss and contradictory indeed; it does not conjure away the flaws in the system.

This is can not be unique to other parts of India and exception to Manipur.

Is not it the time to re-define what literacy means? Crappy crabs needs to be churned out properly.

Let us assume for a minute, those pupils in 2001 were to write their class X exams in 2010. Then, only 34824 pupils matured to studentship out of the 285580 pupils of 2001. It tallied very well with the report that 71% of the pupils enrolled in primary schooling never make it to class VIII.

When it comes to the accountability, key stakeholders wash off their hands. Public scrutiny drive in this tiny state of 2.7 million people has been the epitome of the nation for years. There are host of student bodies, NGOs, activists and pressure groups doing this scrutiny and fighting for the rights to proper education in Manipur.

One will wonders why cracks are still not mended, despite so many policemen. Or is this the case of too many hawkish for this rate! Are they then a factor of impediment, rather then mitigating the ills, they compound the issues manifolds?

Teachers, they are happy campers, free salary for doing nothing. Black sheep outnumbered dark horses.

ASER 2011 says, 28% of enrolment in 2011 is with the government school and the figure could be safely presumed as about 100000. Assuming 1:20 is true for pupil teacher ratio, there could be around 5000 teachers.

According to a National Salary data, on an average, a government teacher gets Rs.156,880.00 per annum as salary. Other perks, allowances, peons, chawkidars and schools running overhead cost, together (say 50% of the teacher cost) this per pupil cost can go up to Rs200000.00 p.a. It means, per pupil cost of teaching is Rs.10000.00 which is way above the cost per pupil of private schools.(Assuming private school teachers gets on an average Rs.5000.p.m)

Johnny (name changed) from Khurai, Imphal, is an engineer by qualification but became a primary school teacher in Manipur. He said, “There is no student or very little students in my school of posting. For an ambitious person like me it is difficult to continue there, but I am paid, so I do go there for some hours every working day, sit there and come home”

Sonia (name changed) from Thoubal, a primary school teacher said, “There is no student to the school where I am posted at. So I don’t go to the school every day”

Anthony (name changed) from Chandel district says, “There is no student in the primary school of their locality. So the teachers don’t come there often. They pay some one to sign their attendant registers. This way many hill people are also get paid just to mind the attendance.”

When it comes to affordability and cost, government of Manipur is always at its knees.

Under the government of India plan, ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan 2002’, all children are required to complete five years of primary schooling by 2007 and eight years of schooling by 2010. State has to contribute 10% of the total expenditure. But Manipur has been unable to pay this 10%, thus it is not authorised to use the balance 90% fully. Now, this ratio of expenditure sharing is going to go up from the IX and X plans onwards.

Another report says, Manipur still has many building less schools and teacher less schools. It is hard to digest to think of it in this 4th largest economy of the world, India.

According to IBEF report (www.ibef.org), 0.15% is the share of Manipur’s own all India Gross State Domestic Products. Foreign Direct Investment inflow to Manipur is just 0.05% of all India figure.

Scary enough, Manipur can not afford to teach its own children with its own money.

It shows how dependent we are to the government of India, even for our basic education right.

In the last five years from now, India’s education budget has increased from 152847 crore to 372813 crore, a jump of 244%. Out of this elementary education budget has increased from 7156 crore to 15000 crore. This is an increase of 210%.

Money is aplenty but the rider is- state has to contribute its own share as well. Education is a subject of state matter under Indian constitution. No doubt, salaries of schools teachers are paid every 3 to 4 months in Manipur.

Now matter how rich India grows, for Manipur unless every players in the education sector do not do a soul searching, Manipur will find it very difficult to come out of this black hole.
It may be through top-down or bottom-up approach or a mixture of the two, we have to find a solution to it.
Frederick The Great said: “An educated people can be easily governed.” Let us all understand this.

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