Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Stem the rot

It is apparent that education is fast becoming an enterprise in capital in our state. We have regular education institutions who charge huge money and that is not affordable for a middle class family, not to speak of poor parents. Another concern that closely follows the first one is that the books and other material that is required in such schools are priced high. Apart from this, our schools hardly invest in teachers who are the backbone of education. It is finally a teacher that fires the imagination of students and empowers them with the skills to crack exams. In the entire schooling system the most neglected part is the teachers. Neither the government nor the parents hold the school administrations responsible in this matter. Perhaps these are questions we need to ask ourselves as a society, and also put before the authorities who administer education sector in the state. Now given these impediments, are we not making our schooling subservient to economic status? In this way we exclude a large number of good students from getting admission to decent schools. The condition of government schools is such that it is not even the last choice for the parents who are serious about education of their children. This debate over the performance of government schools is an ongoing thing. The condition of the buildings that host these schools, the status of the infrastructure, the appointment of teachers to these schools, and the enrolment of students to these schools; every single ingredient that goes into making a school is discussed in public domain over and over again. Unfortunately the government run schools, particularly the primary wings, are considered as non-performing. Each time they are in news it is for bad reasons. Somewhere in our mental landscape we have concluded that nothing can change the state of affairs in these schools and the things can only go from bad to worse. And that is really unfortunate. The space has been completely ceded to the private players. In our state, school education system has witnessed tremendous lack of accountability, increase in corruption and administrative deterioration for decades now. Today school education department is reeling under tremendous administrative chaos and crisis. Those at the helm of affairs at sub-divisional, district and state levels, even if they are capable, honest and sincere, are helpless to do anything to improve the functioning in areas of their operation. Deadwood and parasites are eating into the vitals of the department. They are highly influential and well connected with politicians and bureaucrats. The authorities know touching them would mean burning their own fingers. Sure we need private players who invest in education, but in absence of good government schools it leaves many people in a permanent disadvantage. Those who cannot afford to pay the fee that is demanded by a private school, even in the mid cap segment of these schools, are left with no option than to go to a government school where they know that the standards of education are abysmally low. But having no option than to go to a government school these children have practically no future, and stand nowhere compared to the children that go to some decent private school. An odd example of excellence is only an exception, and no argument can be build over that in favour of government schools. This way we have given rise to two permanent classes of people. Looking from the classical class perspective it is sheer injustice with the children of the poor families who cannot afford education in a private school. Clearly it is the duty of the government to think of a comprehensive plan to make a turn around possible in these schools. We have the example of Delhi government that did a spectacular job in this segment. If it can be changed elsewhere, why not in our state! The idea of modernizing government schools in Nagaland should be placed in that larger perspective. It is time the authorities assess the capacity, capability and integrity of the people who have been placed at the helm of affairs in the state education department, and take effective steps to stem the rot.