By the turn of the next generation, the Manipur society probably will be further segmented along a new class system, all this thanks to the government’s management of its education responsibilities. We can foresee at least three new classes. Purportedly standing on the top of the hierarchy would be by and large young job seekers whose parents have been resourceful enough to have them educated in good schools and colleges outside the state. Two, and more or less at a par with the first would be those who have at least had their education in private schools in the state and hung on to compete for seats in professional courses such as medicine, engineering etc. Three, will constitute those who have been unfortunate to be condemned to study in the state’s many non-functional government schools. The third understandably will also be in the majority, and they would probably come to form the bulk of what may be the state’s own internal backward classes in later years, but already beginning to happen even now. This class will be a pure creation of self-centred leadership of today. Year after year, the high school leaving certificate examinations have proven that there is something very rotten with government schools. Routinely, there were even quite a few schools which turned in zero pass percentages, and yet apart from annual lip services by those who hold the rein of power, nothing much has been done. Private schools hog all the top spots, and government schools at best manages a few second divisions, or in an odd year, a rare first division or so. In more responsible societies, these would have been enough causes for governments to resign. Indeed, what more abject failure in social engineering can there be than the inability to salvage a collapsed school education system for decades together.
The fallouts are obvious. In what may be described as a domino effect, the collapse of the school system has virtually nudged the fall of higher education as well. Many of the state’s colleges have potential, and a few of them actually used to command awesome academic reputations in the entire northeast in the past. Many among the men and women of the 1960s generations, who have earned themselves social respect and station not just in Manipur, but also in neighbouring Nagaland and Mizoram, it is not a surprise to discover, have had their higher education in DM College. However, there has been a steady decline, partly because of bad management of the institutions themselves, together with corrupt government recruitment processes which have seldom kept merit the criterion. But the reason also has been overwhelmingly because the feeder institutions to these colleges – our government schools – have not groomed students fit enough to pursue quality higher studies meaningfully. Thanks to this, today, the number of degree holders who are not capable even of writing a proper application, or of grasping the elementary fundamentals behind the processes and executions of the state’s many institutions – the judiciary, legislature, executive etc, is amazing to the extent of tragic. These degree holders have no option but to look for government jobs for it is here the degree and not the man holding it matters. In the private sector, they will have to fend for themselves and prove their competitive worth always, and unlike the government cocoon their degrees are no guarantee of either success or job security. What we want today are young men and women who can with confidence stand up to be tested by the fire of open competition, and for whom job avenues are open both in the government as well as the private sector, or the unexplored territories of entrepreneurship. This goal still seems illusory, thanks again to our government.
These are serious issues, much more serious than the worry over which minister gets which portfolio, or who bags which government contract job etc. In the long run, the ability to tackle these issues will surely be the answer to our larger, vexing issues. The familiar tactics for those in power when faced with these uneasy questions is to shift the blame to insurgency. We would even go to the extent of reversing the direction of the allegation to say the failure of governance on these fronts have been a strong factor, although not the only factor, behind the endemic bad law and order situation. In any case, even if there was a war being fought, and even if the war is having an impact on these matters, it is the bounden duty of the government to ensure that at the end of the war there will be some things of quality left in the devastated landscape to rebuild the society from. But then, which leader would be interested in these mundane, tiresome concerns from which there will be no 10 percent commission to be had?