In the midst of the current turmoil in the state with protests over drug trafficking in the state, the rising number of cases of various forms of violence against women and the sitting of the Supreme Court appointed Commission, one can easily miss out an important aspect of a students’ academic life: that of Board Examinations which are considered the most important basic foundations of a student’s career. Over the years, the cases of mass copying and note taking during examinations have declined on a drastic scale owing partly to the intervention of various social groups but there is still no dearth of various student groups taking out ‘examination inspection duty’ in the state today. This hints partly at the inability of the concerned Government department and authority to ensure that Examinations take place smoothly but also reflects the manner of how a silent majority ends up legitimizing various groups by not questioning their intent or nature of working. The social legitimacy that groups enjoy in the state is not given by any legal or constitutional body or by any people centric democratic process but by the very nature of passive silence. This is true of not just what student groups end up doing but with the kind of actions that various social groups take up, including those by Meira Paibis.
To come back to the Board exams though, the report of the ire of parents and guardians against the nature of fair examination conduct in Jiribam is a unique case. Instead of engaging with the schools and teaching community while classes are going on, parents and teachers have now come out against officials and teachers who are taking steps to curb unfair practices during examinations on the grounds that the passing rate of students in the area will fall down. Their grouse now is that teachers have not been regular with their classes and that the teachers in most cases have not really reported at the schools. What they have conveniently left out is what were they doing for their wards when the academic sessions were ongoing? Were they even aware that there is an entity called the School Management Committee exists of which parents and guardians can be a part of so that any loopholes in the functioning of schools can be addressed? Apart from the willful amnesia over this area, the more serious undertone of the anger of the parents over how authorities have cracked down on exam malpractices is what kind of legacy they are giving to their children. If parents are guardians are willing to happily hand down a life lesson of copying and using dishonest means to get through examinations to their children, one can only assume what kind of future investments are being made in term of preparing them for the future.
Even as the current education system in the state and in the country is being critiqued for being non-relevant to later life skills, a nod towards scrapping through the hurdles of examinations by cheating and copying would mean that one would have to begin to look at a futuristic possibility of people without merit occupying positions in various capacities: as doctors, as police personnel, as teachers and as various others incumbents. Blinded by a ‘pass’ grade that they want on the mark sheets of their wards and offspring, these parents and guardians are not seeing the danger signs that their actions are sending out to their own children while also adding to the structural breakdown of ‘the system’ as we call it. The very education system that they are attacking today may well have been a result of employing people without the necessary merit or rather, without the merit that has to be inculcated and worked for and not cheated upon. The much needed reality check that the agitating parents of Jiribam and others of their ilk can be seen in the daily proceedings of the Supreme Court appointed Commission presently. Every deposition of the police personnel involved in the alleged fake encounter cases being heard at the Commission show a track record of a total lack of standard police operational procedures or even understanding what they are and failing to comprehend that there are rules that police have to follow. Rules that informed and educated people and personnel would have been aware of but because the jobs they hold may well have been bought with money and influence, they end up getting flak from all quarters. One can only hope that they do have the basic merit to understand that they can also be punished. One hopes too that parents will not agitate over how their children are not being allowed to copy in their examinations but make their children see that dishonesty does not pay and that dedication, hard work and truth is all that it matters.