Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A disaster

That school education in Nagaland is a disaster is no state secret. This is even truer of the entirety of the State Government provided and managed school education ~ in terms of quality of education, teachers, infrastructure, etc. Therefore it is reassuring that the Advisor for School Education had minced no words to portray a picture of the exact status of school education ~ and the Department itself ~ instead of painting a rosy picture, as most Ministers and Advisors are wont to do while describing Departments under their watch. The disease must be diagnosed first for appropriate treatment. Clearly, the Advisor for School Education has been studying the cause and effect of the disease, hence his prognosis, which he succinctly stated at the first one-day seminar for ‘National and State Teacher Awardees’, at the Directorate of School Education, Kohima, on March 31 last ~ which hopefully the public has taken note of. This is crucial because the rot in our school education couldn’t have come to such a pass without the public too chipping away at the Department bit by bit over the decades by insisting on government employment at whatever cost, which, of course, some unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats were only too happy to oblige for reasons that are not too hard to fathom. The very fact that 200 posts of Headmasters or Headmistresses are laying vacant says a lot about the quality and commitment level of people who were recruited as teachers to Government schools. Apparently quite a lot of Government teachers do not seem to understand the Department’s management system. Needless to say all these underscore the corruption at the recruitment level itself. This also directly affects the quality of teaching and students performance. In fact, what is more crucial is what our children are learning, especially in terms of ethics, not so much the grades they get in examinations, which in turn will define the quality and calibre of future demography of Nagaland. Even a single brilliant child with no ethics has the potential to ruin generations ~ think about this. In fact, aren’t we actually seeing this happen? While the Advisor for School Education is obliquely trying to rest his case for the State Government’s discomfiture regarding the court case some teachers have filed against the Government, he has also remained silent on the Government’s own failures that have led to this stalemate. One of the problems of the School Education Department is that it ~ and by extension the State Government ~ has created Frankensteins and is now unable to clean its own mess. In the process, our children, especially from vulnerable backgrounds, are the casualty. The Government has the option of re-writing the rule book regarding deadwood in all Departments but would it? Would the Government prioritize governance over politics? A million dollar question, indeed. Since Statehood our people have never held protest marches, candle-light protests, bandhs, a people’s movement, etc., demanding that the Government prioritize governance over politics ~ so, why should the Government move out of its comfort zone now? Institutions, systems and structures are made, manned and managed by people but the calibre of these people needs to be top class to understand and undertake their exact brief ~ nothing is more pertinent than the example of school education for it not only makes and manages education but also carves the path for future generations to tread on. Sadly, even our State Government doesn’t seem to fully understand and appreciate this and shoulder its responsibility in right earnest ~ a reason for our school education being a disaster. Our Government teachers are supposed to be the most qualified ~ although one is not quite sure about them being the most suitable because qualification isn’t synonymous with aptitude and commitment ~ best paid and with the best of prospects compared to teachers in private schools. Yet, our Government teachers are inevitably found wanting. Why? Faulty recruitment policy? Inadequate background checks? Psychological profiles unchecked and/or disregarded? Nepotism? Politics? What? Surely, this needs very close scrutiny? But who is competent to do that? Would our Government entrust competent people outside its ranks to embark on this task? Ultimately, we must understand that no Department is a happy hunting ground for political and backdoor appointments, nepotism and all kinds of corruption ~ not if we, particularly the Government, are serious about genuine development and progress ~ and of course, foster our unique history, culture, identity and the like.