Open letter to Okendro, Minister of Education, and to the Department of Education of Manipur

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Mr. M.Okendro, Honorable Minister of Education;

and Department of Education Govt. of Manipur, India.

 

Dear Sir,

We are group of educators living and working abroad. We compare the education policy and system abroad and back home in Manipur. We believe it is possible to do better with you, your team as well as we, the people at the grass-root level to get ready our youths in job market to get benefit to the individuals as well as to our state. We would like to propose the following points in education system to bring changes and upgrade our human resource sector.

  1. Adopt No Fail Policy

This will benefit in the long run. Literally speaking we do not let students fail in Thailand. If fail because of ill, accident or whatever reasons students can come and take test as special case on the following day. We thought fail means we remove unqualified candidate and maintains quality. However failing system in exam brings more harm than benefit. It will bring a tremendous psychological effect for the whole life to the individuals. This makes high drop out rate from school. A bad taste of failure is the main cause of emotional torture, depression, diverting attention to drug, crime etc, and sometimes leads to suicide. Instead, please introduce a grading system that those who cannot achieve a particular grade-score, just put them into compulsory vocational training course. Whether good or bad, keeping students without failing for 10-12 years at school will make them at least able to read, write, do some basic maths which is necessary for a common men. Weaker students might not able to become a doctor or engineer, but they must have something for survival and it is important right as a citizen which is very important for nation building. If students cannot become a doctor or an engineer, that is no problem. Let us send our children to suitable disciplines such as carpentry skill, farming skill, mechanic, animal rearing skill, dress making, repairing different things etc. This is what developed countries are doing. Doctors, engineers or lawyers constitute only a fraction of population in a society. Let us stop education system supporting for only a few students who will become doctor or engineer, and also an education system that makes them believe that they will work in government sector. Let us open doors of opportunities in many fields for academically weaker students and they might even be smarter in other skills. The present education system causes some individual schools adopt a policy that they jump over some of the class IX subjects neglecting the value of learning of that particular subjects in order to see the good result only in matriculation. This sacrifice and short term vision will harm in long run and that will bring serious effect in nation building. We should not focus learning only for the result of exams. A student who failed in academic field might excel in sports, business or other fields. There are numerous examples of individuals who could not achieve well academically but they become leaders in the world of business, such as Apple’s former boss Steve Jobs, Microsoft’s former boss Bill Gates, and Facebook’s boss Mark Zuckerberg. Please consider to remove the mistakes existing currently in our education system in Manipur. Let us plan for long term education policy. You took right step by introducing a system that there would not be common class 10 exam under the board, however it seems you reverted your decision to our original common exam system. Board is doing excellent job, but board exams also become carrier stopper to individuals. Here in Thailand, they do not have board exam for class X and XII.

  1. Mass Education

We need mass education. We cannot sacrifice huge population of students knocking out them from school in the name of maintaining quality. What we are seeing here abroad is very different from India. Almost everyone except some disable people can read, write, do basic maths for their daily business. This can be achieved because of education policy as literally they do not have failing system in their education. They support students and giving training is more important. In our system, exams and evaluation is more important. They put students at suitable field if they do not achieve particular grade score. We need this in our system too. Also, please do not detain kids at the same level more than one year. There is wrong belief of the people that promoting all the students will bring down the quality of education. Detaining kids more years at the same class underestimate individuals’ self confidence and ability when they are grown up. Mental strength, psychological health of individual is equally important as physical strength. Marking students fail will lose the individuals’ confidence. Better and more capable students will be absorbed in a more intellectually capable field of study, and lower able students will be engaged in low skill area with proper education in any specific area.

  1. Strong Foundation of Primary Education

We need special attention to primary education. Children who did very good primary level is more likely to go to better middle/high school. Those students who do very well in high school again are more likely to go to better college and university. So, we need to pay more attention to primary education that lays foundation which is seemingly given less important in our country than other countries from parents or authority’s side. Healthy nursery and primary education will shape better strength of our youths.

  1. Focus on Opening More Vocational Schools

Let us focus on opening different vocational schools. This is what people do in more developed countries. Support the students up to 12th standard, no matter what they are- good or bad. At the end of 12th standard, send them to different vocational schools rather than tagged them failed and useless individuals even if students cannot achieve particular grade-score. This policy will keep them move on their education. By the time they are 18 or 19 years old, they will start thinking for their future career. But in our present education policy, weaker students are removed from school system before they are able to think of their own future career. Make any vocational skill importance, meaningful and give their place, and employ them at the right place. What we are trying to say here is- For example, a student studies a vocational training about electricity and power management. If there is a job vacation in electricity department, employ this right candidate rather than recruiting someone who has studied biology.  It is time to stop employing wrong candidates but putting right person at the right place.

  1. Teaching a Competitive Job

Make teaching a competitive job. Competitive jobs means pay good salary and make it rewarding job to teacher. Doctors, engineers, MBAs, civil servants and whoever must go through school system and are under the guidance of teachers on top of the students’ personality. There is huge contribution of teacher than any other authorities to produce good citizen tut for now teaching is not good and respectable like doctors, engineers, and civil servants. We request you to bring some changes on this perspective.

  1. Pay Based on Qualifications, Skill and Position

Salary is a sign of credit, respect, encouragement and social status. Pay salary based on the position as well as the qualification of the candidate. Personally we have seen many Ph.D holders who work at primary school in other countries. They are paid well, respected well not less than a professor. In our culture we neglect this and we are willing to pay more respect to more well paid job, but less respect to individuals who are paid less even though he/she holds high qualification. We do not need knowledge of rocket science from doctorate holder at primary school but we do need experience and expertise of management from these resourceful persons even at primary education where no Ph.D might apply job for primary school in our state because of low salary and low status.

  1. Avoid Teacher Recruitment on Mark Basis

Different schools, states, or countries have different marking system. Percentage of marks cannot decide the overall quality of the candidate all the time even though it is customary to decide the quality of the student on percentage of marks which is very deceptive in practical world. Real capability of the individual cannot be decided by the exam’s marks only. Marks in the exam is just to evaluate the outcome of students’ learning on particular subjects, not the personality. If we know our student who is who, we even do not need any test. Let us stop recruitment system on mark basis. In some countries there is open book policy during exam. This does not mean copying word by word, sentence by sentence like the one what we are facing currently in our society. And, those countries’ education quality is much higher than that of Indian education. We need practical knowledge in human resource sector. It is a norm in India that employers look for people who hold nice certificate rather than who can do the job. But in more developed countries employers look for someone who can perform the task. Let us bring some changes to rectify the mistakes existing in the present system.

  1. Speaking and Listening in Language Syllabus

We learn English as compulsory subject. We learn reading and writing, rules of grammar. However we never include Speaking and Listening as part of syllabus which is taken very serious everywhere in foreign countries. There are lots of people who can read and write but do not speak the language. As a language teacher in Thailand and Cambodia, with personal experience with other teachers from different native English speaking countries we strongly feel that language is after all to communicate with others. Please try to include Listening and Speaking in our syllabus too. This will increase the chance of our youths in the world of job market.

 

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely,

Dina

 

Writers’ Profile:

Chingakham Dina, Working at Pathumwiali School, Pathumthani Thailand. Also taught in Cambodia / Can be reached at chingakham(at)yahoo(dot)com

Arambam Karamjit, Teacher SKN School, Nonthaburi, Thailand/former Retail Outlet Manager, Hang Ten Co Ltd, Singapore / Can be reached at ronin9992008(at)gmail(dot)com

Khwairakpam Sunita, Works at Pathumwilai School, Pathumthani Thailand / Can be reached at sunita.khwairakpam(at)yahoo(dot)com 

Arjun Kumar Dhungel, Lives and works in the USA

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