The students in the hill districts are clearly divided on the issue of having centres for the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) examination in the hill district headquarters. While a joint committee of student bodies based in the hill districts have cried foul of the government decision to conduct TET examinations only in the state capital Imphal by announcing a 48 hour bandh, the powerful Kuki Students Organisation (KSO) has disassociated itself from the bandh. The bandh call was given by a joint committee of Zeliangrong Students’ Union Manipur (ZSUM), Senapati District Students’ Association (SDSA), Churachandpur District Students’ Union (CDSU), Naga Students’ Union Chandel (NSUC) and Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS). The 48 hour bandh had begun on September 23 midnight. KSO’s grudge is that they were the ones, who had earlier announced a similar 48-hour bandh over the same issue, but it was disregarded by other student bodies and now these same students’ bodies based in the hills are calling the bandh without taking them into confidence. But the bandh was called off following assurance given by the State Government. And the assurance given by the state Education Minister to KSO was that the state is willing to open TET examination centres in all the hill districts at a future point of time, as it says. The government point of view is that it will not be opening TET examination centres in the five hill districts this year, but that it is willing to discuss the possibility from next year. On such an ‘assurance’ the Kuki Students Organisation has taken into confidence the presidents of the five branches of KSO in its decision not to support the 48-hour bandh. While rejecting the bandh call KSO has accused the bandh organisers of jeopardizing tribal solidarity. A clear divide is evident with regard to the tribal equation and it suits the government. Whether it was intended or not, a divide has been created and it is not a healthy sign for either the tribal equation or the hill-valley equation. The state needs to be very careful about that.
Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) was one the most innovative ideas churned out by Manipur government in recent times and despite controversies recruitment of government teachers was properly regulated for the first time ever. It was only recently that the state education department had begun issuing offer forms to the selected candidates for Lower Primary and Upper Primary teachers after a yearlong date with the court. Based on the merit list of TET examination and the academic careers of the candidates, the state government had selected 1951 candidates for Lower Primary and 574 candidates for Upper Primary was selected under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), last year. However, the process of appointment was held up due to cases and it was recently cleared by the Gauhati High Court. Last year, there was no controversy regarding the venue of the TET examination. This time, the problem started with the distribution of forms for the said TET examination which was issued at only Raja Dhumbra High School at Nongmeibung, Imphal East. As there was a mad rush for the forms from candidates coming from every nook and corner of the state, there were complaints galore and the student bodies cutting across community lines jumped into the scene. Thus followed, the demand for distribution centres in every district of the state from student bodies. Not far behind, the demand for examination centres in all the district headquarters also arrived. We believe there is merit in the demand for TET examination centres in all the district headquarters. Logistics or for that matter security concerns cannot be an excuse for denying the demand. Yes, we agree that logistics has to be worked out and it takes time for such a massive exercise. But, there is need to take into confidence all the student bodies and other stakeholders with regard to the difficulties of the state. We are sure they will understand.