Tete a tete with the Education Minister

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Henkhokai Singsit

The misconception that the public bears towards our elected representatives is basically skewed and filled with skepticisms as such we tend to revile and denounce them with blankets of accusation after pinching them off every penny they had earned during elections; and deriding them for all the evils that has befallen the state. Well it’s one example of the pot calling the kettle black.

With this prejudicial fallacies I went to attend a meeting that was summoned by the honourable Education Minister of the state on the fateful day when he invited all the student leaders of the state to proffer their suggestions and remedial measures to bring forth a facelift to the moribund education sector that had been long afflicted with a terminal malaise whose symptoms are manifested by indolence, incompetence, dereliction and deeply entrenched corruption.

Look at the present state of affairs in the Education department; it is pathetic and heart rending. Reviving or revamping it was as such, was regarded as something impossible for the disease had entrenched so deep that even the thought of trying to salvage is living in a fool’s paradise.

However, the maxim, “politics is the art of possibility” is something we the people of Manipur have become oblivious of due to our prejudicial attitude and this was clearly negated by the present Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues. Behold! There is light at the end of the tunnel and if my hunch is right the state is marching towards a better time.

The nitty–gritty of the meeting was to rope in students’ organisations to contribute their mite in restoring the health of the government educational institutions and we all cried ditto to the call. And the meeting hall was choc-a-bloc with student leaders.

We have a man in the education department whose words one can trust with his life and one who have the audacity to take the bull by the horns. His intentions are no cake walk as such it demands a man with an extra-ordinary courage to do it.

Many student leaders expressed their misgivings that the former minister had invited them but nothing was translated into action and the matter just ends there itself. But the willingness on the part of the minister to invite the student leaders as an important stakeholder is surely a good sign. The past education minister had also done things that were far-reaching and if the present one decides to venture further, then as student leaders we should appreciate it and lent support wherever necessary.

What really evoke my enthusiasm was that the education minister was of the firm conviction that once education sector are put on a sound footing then many of the social and economic chasms that is afflicting the state shall be minimised. His view of education was very comprehensive. And as a man of great erudition who have the capacity to read between the line- He firmly believes that education can be the catalyst for fostering communal harmony in the state and students as an important agent to take forward the message of amity, love, oneness and brotherhood to every nook and corners.

With the conviction that once government educational institutions started convalescing then the economy of the state shall be automatically resuscitated. This is true beyond doubt. Look at the ten and thousands in the payroll of the education department. Even though they earned hefty salary but does little commensurate to what they earn. And the government has to dished out crores of rupees for their salary, forget the staggering amount incurred for its upkeep and infrastructures. And what are their contributions to the educational trajectory of the state? Almost nothing! And why should the tax-payers money be wasted for nothing?
As our teachers shamelessly sit in their homes by sending measly- paid proxies on their behalf and clamouring for the governments head when their salaries are paid late. And look at our colleges besides few, the same hall-mark of indolence, absenteeism, impersonation is glaringly visible. Sometimes I am amazed at professors drawing salaries to the tune of one lakh or more for a work which he never attends. Where is our morality, our work ethics and does our religion teaches us to take money as gratis or for a work in which we have contributed nothing?

If our teachers have a bit of humanity in their heart they would have paused to ponder the conditions of those children thrown out of expensive private schools and loitering in the streets because the government schools are left to rot by these shameless teachers. So it was recommended in the meeting that stringent actions should be taken against erring teachers and student organizations in turn shall act as the watch dog and reports lapses that is evident.

It is a paradox that our teachers have forgotten their sacrosanct duty but on the contrary are instrumental in the destruction thousand lives without any compunction. This is a crime against humanity and should be treated as felony with strong punitive action. The same yardstick should apply for all persons serving under the government’s payroll.
For levity sake, I recommend the construction of a jail specially meant for incarceration of derelict government servants, especially teachers.

Verbatim to his words the education minister dwelled on the fact that only 2% of the state students have the financial capacity to send their children to schools outside the state. His concerned was for the remaining 98% who had to languish in this trouble-torn Manipur but the lack of good educational institutions to cater to the academic needs of the unprivileged thousands of students’ pained him. I was deeply moved by this pronouncement and the nobleness of his heart.

Concomitantly, the exponential increase of drop-outs in my society due to the non-functioning of government schools, the noble intention of the minister actuated me to resolve to give my all so that justice is done to the unfortunate poorer students. And not to flinch because this is a fight that transcends all- a fight for the poor and the unprivileged people.

And he gave us his private number and urged us to call him in the event of any eventuality. Sceptical as I was, I took it to be an ‘attention-grabber’ tactics on the part of the minister. And to prove my cynicism I gave him a call but Voila! He picked it up as I spun out my yarn.
The crux is how many ministers or MLA has the guts to dish out their numbers to persons who he hardly acquaints himself/herself with? I bet none. This clinches everything.

In my last meeting with him he confided to me that he had a hard time in attending his phone as every now and then student leaders across the board calls him up for matters of significance and sundry. My heart goes out for the present Education Minister.

(The writer is the education secretary of ATSUM and can be reached at kakaisingsitgmail.com or kakaisingsit via face book)

Source: The Sangai Express

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