Saturday, December 04, 2021

Education and employment

By EMN Updated: Sep 15, 2013 10:54 pm

“Ask me my three main priorities for Government,  and I tell you: education, education, and education”.              – Tony Blair


[dropcap]N[/dropcap]agaland Governor, Dr Ashwani Kumar, hit the nail on the head with his observation of the imbalance between supply and demand in the world of education in the state.
He defined it as a ‘mismatch’ between what is taught in schools and colleges and what skills are required by these youths to earn livelihood in their own State.The impact of this surrounds us. We breathe it. We live it and we suffer it in silence so much so that it has grown like a cancer, leaving us worried about the next clear steps to handle the scenario in our hands. Thousands upon thousands of boys and girls are studying in schools and colleges and the university in Nagaland and outside the state. Almost all of them will pass out with high degrees and certificates.
This is all very well.
We need accomplished scholars, researchers, professionals, technocrats, businessmen, musicians, architects, planners, and leaders.
Youth who will be forthcoming in writing our history, document our dying arts and crafts, the fading and vanishing village lives, our folk lores and songs, memories and history of great events like the WW II, our indigenous technologies, the history of the state, of the pioneering leaders in the fields of politics, education, medicines, create new literature for the world, new vistas in art, in designing, in science, breakthrough in medicinal sciences, in wildlife sciences, in bio-diversity in music and sports, culinary, event management, film-making to name a few sectors which are not dependent on the government created posts.
In addition to the introspective point raised by the Governor, a supportive question that could also be asked is about the quality education imparted in the majority of the schools and colleges. Excellence should be the goal. How do we reach this height? Is it within our capability or is it an impossible dream? Ours is a very young society and the impact of globalization has been rapid with little time to adapt and adjust to the changes that literacy can bring.
The “mismatch” of the education system is also the result of a disconnect of what is sometimes described as the gap between the “brain and brawn”.
The popular argument goes that students have been taught to use their brains but not their hands, and this is why their first objective is to try for a government job. Parents are often the guilty party in this obsession of obtaining a secure job for their children and not emphasizing enough on the responsibility such a privilege demands.
This is not to say that the government has not seen many well deserving and exemplary public servants who have served diligently and still do. Whatever little the state has achieved (Nagaland will celebrate 50 years of statehood this year) is due to the collective work of its sincere government employees past and present.
Over the decades a government job has become the status symbol of the young man or woman … a sort of a stamp of achievement. But these numbers are miniscule compared to the number of graduates who do not make the grade. Government employees are a major contributor to the family in terms of financial resources and related factors. In fact, over half the State’s population is dependent on them. Unfortunately, government jobs are saturated and it has become nigh on impossible to appoint all aspirants. Herein lies the problem leading on to other problems.
The younger generation have developed a fancy for urban lifestyles and all the expenses that a “city life” entails.While there is nothing intrinsically wrong about this, what is often overlooked is how are these lifestyles being maintained? In a majority of instances, it is the parents whether located in the rural, semi-urban or urban landscape who monetarily support the lives of these young adults. When these same “educated” young adults fail in their endeavours, they feel that the next best thing is to join any of the Naga national groups, as the learned Governor observed.
Since the past two decades, the State Government had initiated a Chief Minister’s Corpus Fund to motivate the numerous educated unemployed youths to take up some business ventures like PCOs and other viable commercial enterprises. During former Chief Minister Dr S.C. Jamir’s time the Corpus Fund was Rs two crores and this was enhanced to Rs five crores when Neiphiu Rio became the Chief Minister.
Many youths had taken advantage of the loans available and almost all did try to work it out. However, the overall results have not been very satisfying. As such, the disbursement of allotment loan forms were entrusted to the respective MLAs concerned for distribution at their strict discretion
Besides this, various departments are also extending facilities to interested people. To cite one example, the department of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry is encouraging the youth to involve themselves in piggery, poultry or even raising Jersey cows for milk production—the last is of limited quantity.
The department would construct necessary sheds on the land of the entrepreneurs according what they have applied for, whether piggery, poultry or milk production. Some measure of fodder would also be provided and the enterprises would be under constant supervision of the department officials.
In these ways, the State government has initiatives for the people in general to boost the socio-economic sector if only the people decide to go for it. There is need to realize that government jobs are not the be all and end all of life. The previous generations had all the good intentions but it was unfortunate that nepotism and back door entry appointments (by hook or by crook) to government jobs had become the norm. This has in many ways seen the erosion of a great machinery which instead of working in rhythm with the changing times is more often than not out of sync with the demands of a younger and new generation..
The only way to stop such irregularities is that the voice of the people should grow louder at all possible fora including the media which will in no small measure lessen corruption within the government employees’ fraternity itself.
Also, as the Governor rightly pointed out, there must be immediate re-alignment of courses and curriculum in the education sector to enable the educated unemployed for tackling the issues of livelihood and self-employment. Here again, our welfare State Government must initiate necessary legislation but much more on a war footing.
Education in the state is in dire need of engaging young minds with passion and motivation to challenge young lives to be inquisitive about their surroundings and to think out of the box. Education that will inspire young minds to get creative and find solutions to the challenges around them and not succumb to them.

By EMN Updated: Sep 15, 2013 10:54:52 pm