The State education minister must go through a thorough reality-check before claiming that education scenario in the State is improving. Very recently, the minister in his speech on the occasion of the golden jubilee celebration of Oriental College said that education has come back to its right track, and it is improving. The minister and the education department must be having their own benchmark of measuring the improvement in education sector. Or, if there is any, we would say, their benchmarking system has serious flaws. On the same day when the minister was making the statement, students of Tamphasana Girls’ Higher Secondary school took to the streets protesting against the lack of adequate teachers in the institution. The students of Ananda Singh Academy School too have protested a few days back against the lack of teachers and other basic infrastructures in the school. Time and again, the same demands have been raised by other schools which are located in the heart of the Capital. This cannot be taken as an indication that all is well with educational institutes in other parts of the State. The schools in the towns by virtue of their location could grab media attention and hence the reportage. Yet, it has been our effort to report stories that pertain to education and the embodying malaise in the system. These reports could be from the peripheries as well. Our August 10 indicated schools in Jiribam Barak Circle have fairly the same problem that the educational institutes in the Imphal town are facing. Was it not this year that the grandiose idea of ‘Centralised Admission System’ was flaunted by the State education directorate? So called eight ‘elite’ government schools from the Imphal were selected for the centralised admission. The idea was that centralisation will bring uniformity in students’ enrollment, besides availing them quality teachers and good infrastructures which the eight schools purportedly have. The two schools, which are TG and Ananda Singh, needless to mention are included among the eight selected schools for CSA. Spurt of protests by students from these schools against the lack of teachers and infrastructures expose the barrenness, both in terms of idea and action of the education department towards the improvement of education in the State. IFP in this column had earlier contended the idea of a centralised admission would be like giving death sentence to other schools in the State by concentrating all its resources and energy to a selected few schools in Imphal. However, in spite of the disturbing realities, the education minister has the audacity of projecting a rosy image of the State education scenario. Alongside, our learned education minister has once again opened the debate of what education is meant to be. Not only the education minister, but also the Chief Minister has been appealing to the students’ community to refrain from taking part in movements which are not related to education. Should we remind that students were in the forefront both in the statehood and the language movement of the State? Without the students’ participation in these two movements, the demand for a full-fledged State and 8th Schedule would have remained as demands. Though, one cannot deny the wider involvement of other stakeholders in both the movements. For a simple example, was not Bhagat Singh a student leader when he met his martyrdom struggling for the independence of India? It is impossible to think of independence movement, for that matter, to be included in the syllabus of the then education system of colonial India, which is against the logic as well.
But how would someone like Bhagat Singh, who in his early 20s fired by the imagination of freedom lay down his life for the country. The answer lies in the education that can be acquired outside the syllabus or the educational campus. Lessons of immediate social realities are learned from the social-political theatres, which are beyond the institutional boundaries of any education system. We do not however endorse protest march of the students on the streets at the drop of a hat. The cause of the protest has to be genuine. Nonetheless, the appeal made by the two leaders is deceitful and will be self-defeating. What the State needs today is a robust education policy, not soothing speeches.
Leader Writer: Senate Kh