Export Manipur’s Education to Southeast Asia

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classroomsEducation becomes a booming industry around the world. Now Asian market is ready to open to Manipur. In the past one or two years, people are anticipating that there is going to be bigger market in Manipur regarding to business in the coming years. There has been new education proposal and policy announced in the news to meet the challenging supply and demand of skills and job market in Manipur. Where does Manipur stand to take the challenges coming from our neighbors.
Education quality is not good in India compared with world standard. To figure out the stand of education quality of India with respect to world standard, let us look at some facts. India put students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test from two Indian states such as Tamil Nadu and Himchal Pradesh in 2012. PISA test is conducted to check the quality of students among 15 years old high school students. The reality showed clearly. India came second last among the 73 countries. Poor quality and shocking with the reality, India hasn’t participated the test in the following years.
There are large numbers of English teaching jobs in our neighboring Southeast Asian countries. However we cannot tap this opportunity because of the faulty and low quality education system of India. Quality of education in the east Asia and southeast Asia is becoming top ranking in the world. In 2015, the result of PISA test showed that top five (ranking) best education in the world are from Asia namely-
1. Singapore
2. Hong Kong
3. South Korea
4. Japan
4. Taiwan (Japan & Taiwan holding the same position).
Vietnam is in 12th position. This result shows Asia’s real good performance in high school education ahead of former Scandinavian countries such as Finland. When we look at city-wise, Shanghai of China is doing excellent quality of education in recent years. Education business can be achieved in our resource crunch state. With amazing education quality around our neighborhood, how can we attract students to Manipur in this education business?
In modern day education, people around the world including our neighboring South Asian countries are interested education in English medium. Good fluency in English like their own mother tongue helps to capture job market share in world economy. We educate our youngsters in English medium, however we still are not able to capture the attention in job market and education business. We praise our IIT graduates, but these are a few in millions. They don’t represent general population as the real picture of common men’s education of India. In a country of over a billion, a few perfect men don’t bring much in general population’s income. When we get a few students job offer from Google, Microsoft etc we all talk about it. This achievement is just like one in a billion which means the job market is almost untouched especially in Manipur. However, we have very high potential to expand in this field of education business, but only when we can modify our existing faulty system.

Foreign Students in India
There are students from southeast Asia and south Asian countries in big cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chenai, Punes etc. Those students take their course and practice English language while studying their courses. We will have more potential to attract those students to Manipur if we manage a good learning atmosphere. Southeast Asian nations such as Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia etc share similar food and culture with us. They are happier intermingling with northeast Indian people when they come to India because of similar culture, similar food habit, and similar looks with northeast people. It will not be hard for them to adjust in our Manipur culture and society because of many similar cultural background.
Education business could be huge profitable in Manipur as gateway of India to Look East Policy. But don’t take this lightly because competition in any business fields is very high among the southeast Asian people. They have higher work ethic and better business culture. We need to bring real quality and move to upper scale in business-like management. We have very attractive weather & climate, food that could be easily adaptable to neighboring countries and cheap tuition fees. But these are not enough to attract clients in business market. They have better business environment and client service culture, so we need to understand and keep this in mind all the time if we want to win in this education business. Our big potential is useless if we can’t bring some changes.

Our Perception of Education about Thailand
We heard many times that Thais don’t speak English. Generally it sounds it could be true. They communicate in a single national language which is Thai. They don’t speak English among them and they hardly practice English because everyone speaks the same language. But time has changed. You will see native English speakers in almost all the schools in Thailand. They have money to hire teachers from the west. So, nowadays there are many international schools, private schools, and English programs in almost every school. Reporters on TV, radios news are exactly sound as native English speaker. Native English became standard in recruiting teachers but still there are many Asian teachers especially from the Philippines. During 1960s & 1970s, Thai people went to the Philippines for education, but today younger generation Filipinos come to Thailand for education. People hardly go to the Philippines for education except some people for some specific skills. People think that Thais don’t go abroad to work. People might be thinking this, because of poor quality of education in Thailand. This is wrong. They don’t go abroad because they have everything such as job, business, food and comfort life with easygoing life style in their own. In spite of their superior management, facilities and infra-structures we still can have share in education business market with serious input of management and upgrade the system.

Students Inflow and Outflow from Manipur
Students moving out from Manipur to other states for better education is nothing new. We lost huge money for education but many parents are doing this for their future and life long plan, to bring better fortune to the individual’s career. If we maintain high quality, non disturbance environment in Manipur, our students will stay and learn in Manipur. In recent years, there has been growing number of B.Ed training institutions in Manipur. This is good sign for flowing in income to the state. People from other states of India started coming to study in Manipur. Again, people started talking that we have too many B.ed institutions downplaying the quality of education. We need larger number of institution and resourceful workforce training to bring change. Having a doctor at a leikai (communiy) will not bring economic changes in the locality. We need everyone has skill to be able to work professionally in different fields. We thought too many B.Ed training institutions, but in reality that is not too many. In a poor country like India, we need more institutions, schools, colleges, and universities. We just felt wrong impression of having crowded with institutions without maintaining quality. Poor quality at present situation is true. Producing large number of educated youths plays major game in changing society. Because of this reason, Thailand produces more capable human resource literally without failing students in the exams at schools. This proves much better result in socio-economy than India’s system of failing students and bring up only a few better students in the name of maintaining quality as planners thought. We should design our syllabus to produce more better human resource that could be employable easily in other advanced countries as well not only confining in the local job market. Targeting only local government job is wrong as the already existing government employees are not able to get paid their salary regularly due to wrong management. We never heard any countries delaying salary for 6 month like in Manipur. Delaying 6 months’ salary is just stopping people to grow.
We need new strategy to bring changes and to attract students. The following points will help to earn more income from education business.
1. Teacher and Students Exchange Program
Introducing exchange program for teachers and students with foreign countries will help to learn and expand knowledge in teaching-learning Taking home those teaching learning experience will help a lot to improve our education management in Manipur. Such exchange program prevails in many countries. This exchange program will need involvement of officials, leaders of institution such as signing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to make things easier for paperwork and visa for teachers and students participating the program. However, the weakness of schools and institution in Manipur, low standard of school infra-structures, disturbance with bandh and strike will surely discourage participation of foreign teachers and students in Manipur. Foreign educators and learners want to learn something valuable in a similar way we too, are looking for something to learn from them. Without improving those infra-structures, it will not be an easy task to bring foreigners and exchange program. Connecting people to people will enhance business opportunity in different fields.

2. English Language
The reality of importance of English language in job market (local and international) is too high. We should not neglect this reality with nationalism and local language feeling. Foreign language learning as well as keeping the importance of local language are growing around the world. Educated English speaking candidates’ earning are much better than those who do not speak English in job market. English language is considered so much importance among the parents that if their kids speak fluent English they are considered as impressive students and brighter career. We have heard some Burmese students already studied in Manipur. There is good chance that other nationalities such as from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and other neighboring countries’ students will be coming to Manipur if we can manage a good reputation of English teaching. There is really high demands for English and study in English medium in these countries are becoming very popular. Native English speaking teachers became role model. Even though we produce large number of English speaking youths and teachers, we are not able to enter successfully in English teaching job. Native English teacher or near native is what people prefer in these countries. We need to change our training system for teachers and students to bring up the quality of teaching-learning and attain native like English proficiency. Because of this non native sound of English, poor pronunciation while speaking, Filipinos and India teachers are paid lower than native English speakers. We need to uplift this weakness if we want to bring foreign students to our state to serve as education centre. It is time to introduce modern technologies in language learning laboratories like those schools in developed countries.
3. Infra-structure and School Facilities.
Another important step is to improve school infrastructures to attract learners from outside. Our school buildings, facilities, and infra-structure are very poor. They are not enough and comparable the basic thing to that of Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong etc. Library, sports facilities, canteen, toilet, drinking water, computer literacy, wifi, recreational facilities and all other extra-curricular activities are in poor state and these are very important parts of for education not only classroom lesson in other countries. They don’t look at education for getting seats only doctors or engineering learning. We neglect those things and that simply reflect to our Olympic performance so that we hardly able to bring medal from international competition. We need to improve these facilities otherwise outsiders will not be impressed to come to study in Manipur.
4. Kids Computer Coding
Computer became compulsory part of learning. There came a revolutionary introduction of computer code learning among kids. The seriousness of learning has become another level in advanced countries. In Hong Kong, basic computer coding has been introduced to kids as young as 6 years old. Most of our kids cannot access the basic of computer learning. Now many countries follow the footsteps of Hong Kong in this direction. We also need to take up such important steps of education in Manipur too to stand on par with our surroundings.
5. Stop Bandh Culture
No society could be as disturbed as like the situation of Manipur. Any individual, or any group will try to punish the whole society for personal conflict or unsettled issues. People are saying bandh-strike is not good but people always use this tactic to solve the conflict. There are conflicts everywhere but we are the only ones who take up bandh-strike method on daily basis to punish everyone in the whole state. We use this bad practice of punishing the whole society even though the origin of conflict is not involved the whole society. No one tries to bring solution by direct talk with concerned parties without bandh and strike. This whole disturbance causes too much harm to students and their career not only to business & market. We still want to say that there are lots of job around the global market if we are competence enough. But entering into that competition will never to be possible as long as we don’t stop this bandh-strike culture to concentrate on our duty. We shouldn’t bring and involve kids as much as possible like in other countries. When there was big conflict in Thailand, the protesters organized their activities at particular place by building temporary stage to explain their causes and propaganda, to solve the problem. They always mind their own business not to hurt people’s interest, business, and earning. We lost control these things in Manipur.
6. Changing Society to Bring Foreign Students
To bring students to education industry depends on the stability of the society. The peace, the calmness, neat and clean environments will attract many outsiders. Dirty, pollution, unhygienic atmosphere will deter outsiders coming to Manipur. People want to go to USA, England, Canada, Australia etc. to experience the systematic nature of the society not only the classroom education. The science, and the maths we learn in the classroom are the same as those taught in USA, England etc. but they attract students just because of their competitiveness, quality and smooth system of the environment in the society. We need help of local people, clubs, youths, government and non government organizations’ involvement to runn the society smoothly. Without basic infrastructure such as road, electricity, water, toilet, communication, we will not attract foreign students. Strict rules imposed on foods and drinks, dress code and culture will discourage people coming to Manipur. As such freedom and competitive business atmosphere are available, there are thousands of foreign students in Thailand even though it is not famous for education destination. No first world country’s students will come to study in 3rd world except for cultural heritage learning if we still cannot modify and provide brighter side of the society. Our potentials will not be catapulted unless we bring some smooth atmosphere in our society. Despite of many odds, we still have better chance in education business if we manage better learning atmosphere.
We need to bring more income for the state machinery to run smoothly and maintain the existing infra-structures, so education business could be one of the source of incomes.

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- Former teacher at SKN School, Nonthaburi, Thailand/Former Retail Outlet Manager, Hang Ten Co Ltd, Singapore / Can be reached at ronin9992008(at)gmail(dot)com

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

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