APART FROM TOPPERS’ FELICITATION
Need for a mechanism to garner social support in effective educational reforms in Manipur
By Seram Neken Singh
July 9, 2013
As human beings take calories of food to build muscles and bones for the body, education serves as the food for the mind. It enables one to think good, to do good and make progress in life. Education enlightens the mind to differentiate between vice and virtue. Only educated men can lead the society to progress and civilization. When we do not educate our children, we are deconstructing our future.
Manipur society today witnesses all sorts of vices, among which disturbance in educational institutions is the most notorious. Planting of bombs and hurling of grenades in schools are no more bizarre incidents in the state. There were even reports of hurting school students in bomb attacks near educational institutions. Such incidents clearly show the complete lack of education among the perpetrators. It is said that Hitler did not close down educational institutions during the hectic world war period. Winston Churchill of Britain also followed suit by allowing schools and colleges to work normally during the war. They paid utmost care for the education sector, as education is essential for future growth of the human society.
Nowadays, most politicians do not prefer to invest in education sector, as its yields are not quickly visible. It takes years to educate a child. The society will taste the fruits of education after decades of venture. Local people will feel the benefits of constructing a market complex or a bridge or a road as soon as it is inaugurated. However, the outcome of education is naturally delayed as well as long lasting. During the past many years, ministers and administrators came and went away, having nothing to contribute to the reformation of irregularities in education sector. Hence, education in Manipur remained the most irregular and corrupt of all public sectors. Fortunately now, the present state government seems enlightened on the potentialities of education sector in shaping the society. Not a single day passes without one or the other news related to educational reforms. The concerned department has been trying hard to regularize the pending rough management in education sector. Something concrete has been done and many more are expected to be done. Here, the public support in various forms is a must to bring in educational reforms in the state. In the absence of public commitment, the government will be handicapped to reach the nook and corner of the state. The local people must act as the ears and eyes of the government in matters of monitoring educational institutions.
Although felicitation of toppers of various examinations has become a fashion nowadays, the involvement of local leaders and organizations in such events is worthy of appreciation. Many local clubs are organizing programmes to congratulate the excellent students belonging to their localities. Political leaders have come out active to distribute awards to the meritorious few hailing from their constituencies. Such felicitation of toppers surely encourages the few brilliant students and instills a competitive spirit among them. However, it will in no way benefit the large number of mediocre students, who need to be constantly motivated in order to fit in suitable careers. Neither the toppers are the only students who deserve to be encouraged nor are examinations the only criteria to judge the merit of students.
The local people, Panchayats and political leaders have often been indulging in felicitating toppers of their locality, as a mark of encouragement to brilliant students. Their interests and involvement in education sector clearly shows that they have the potential to participate actively in educational betterment of the locality. Besides felicitating toppers once in a year, the local clubs and political leaders need to focus on continued support to all the students of the locality or assembly constituency. The local people have a great role in effective implementation of educational programmes in their locality. Before any government department realizes, a local man naturally knows how many teachers come to school on time and how many students attain classes regularly. The local people always see who go to school and who do not. The flagship programmes like the right to education (RTE) can never be successful without the support of local people. The government needs to focus on the role of grassroots level institutions so as to effectively implement educational flagship programmes.
The Gram Sabha or local club is the best institution to assess the performance of educational institutions in villages. They may conduct a village level survey to identify the children who are out of school. Parents/guardians of such children may be motivated to send their wards to a nearby school. The benefits of education and the amenities provided to school going children from the government side may also be highlighted to the parents. Effective messages to encourage the parents to avail of the right to compulsory education of their children may be framed and disseminated. On the other hand, the village Panchayat or local club may also vigilantly monitor the working of schools in its jurisdiction. Every defaulting teacher may be reported to the respective controlling officer for prompt action. The grievances of the educational institutions may also be forwarded to the authority for timely fulfillment. In such a way, the working of educational institutions may also be monitored. The local organizations and politicians who are very enthusiastic in felicitating topper students will surely shoulder the responsibility to ensure that every child of the locality is sent to school.
The government may very well use the services of local people for educational reforms through a well established public relations mechanism. An effective public relations mechanism will materialize the educational reforms. The educational set-up in Manipur is in dire need of an effective public relations mechanism. The services of local clubs, village Panchayats, Meira Paibee groups etc. may be mobilized to spread the messages of education in the nook and corner. The task of garnering the public support may be entrusted to a well-equipped Public Relations Cell under education department.