Focus on quality


The existing state of educational institutions in the State is precarious, where a top heavy approach and focus on quantity and not quality is guiding the state’s ill-conceived education policy. Where the need is to strengthen the primary and basic school level education, the successive governments in the last nearly two decades have been making tireless pursuits to not only focus on higher education but also phase out existing schools or neglecting them. In fact excessive investment in the higher education sector without any dividends should by now have prompted the state government to review its policy of upgrading many schools, not necessarily aimed at promoting education but inspired more by vote bank politics, without improving and consolidating the basic school education. It was during Neiphiu Rio led government that the process of upgrading schools to higher levels started. The policy not only remains unquestioned, it was further endorsed and pursued without a fair assessment of the benefits by successive governments. Leave alone the upgraded schools, the staff, particularly teaching staff, remain inadequate and untrained even in the schools already established for decades. As far as the infrastructure goes, many of the recently upgraded schools do not even have proper space and buildings and many are sharing the buildings with existing schools, thus also adversely affecting school education, which is already in a pitiable state and difficult to revive even as higher pay scales in recent years have enabled recruitment of better qualified and trained staff. Edifices of higher education cannot be built on poor standard of education in schools that churn out matriculates and higher secondary pass outs by the hordes every year, majority of whom cannot even write a correct or perform simple mathematics like addition and multiplication. This is true of not just the government schools but also the mushrooming small private academies turned into commercial ventures without even providing good quality education. In fact inability to consolidate school education and improve the quality of education imparted in government institutions eventually inspired a mindset invested in the framing policies regarding higher education, encouraging a mushrooming growth of colleges. The number of colleges has multiplied but in terms of promoting good academic culture, they have further gone down the line as no efforts were made at consolidating the existing infrastructure and expansion on basis of that. Mushrooming growth of colleges, satellite campuses and new universities came up corresponding with the period in which school education both in terms of quality was sagging and primary schools were shutting down. Sure, the dismal scenario of schools may not be the sole reason for the inability of the higher seats of education to grow in terms of quality, though the lack of availability of meritorious school pass-outs for the colleges and universities does have a bearing on the functioning of the latter. The higher seats of learning suffered primarily because they were ill-planned and informed by vote bank politics, not a broader vision for education. With the result, a focus on expansion and higher education policy without a scientific assessment and planning only ended up in neglect of existing institutions including Nagaland University, which is way behind national standards. Good standards of education cannot be measured in terms of the number of courses that universities offer but by the calibre of its faculty members, the intellectual engagement through routine seminars and standard publications and the intellect of the students prepared by universities. These exist only in small measures because the universities instead of ridding themselves of a bureaucratic culture have got trapped in it even more. Besides, the higher institutes of learning in recent years have simply been turned into vehicles of politics. The education field has been virtually left free for political beings to resort to cheap gimmicks in opening hordes of colleges, primarily with an eye on the vote bank. An impressive number of higher educational institutions, many of which are operating in shabby and congested buildings without the requisite infrastructure and equipment, can never produce good education for many. The need for the new government now is to consolidate the existing institutions and more than that strengthening the basic schooling and education. A vision for education cannot be based without these two necessary foundation stones.