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Op-Ed

HSLC/HSSLC 2014 … A mixed bag

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By EMN Updated: May 04, 2014 1:18 am
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Khekiye K. Sema

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he NBSE’s declaration of 2014 HSLC/HLSSLC results has inspired a mixed feeling of elation as it did the negative ones. At the outset, a hearty congratulations to all who topped the Charts including all those who have crossed this crucial milestone as well. Our hearts bleed for all the despairing parents and the children who failed to step over this threshold of destiny…having to spend another anxious year of putting their lives on hold. Over the years, the Nagas have developed a very thick hide of indifference towards all the life damaging events recurring around us. “Transparency” and “Accountability” are just words in the Dictionary having shed its relevance or application a long time ago.The present list of 26 Schools having produced NIL results as published in the Eastern Mirror on 1st May 2014, are all predominantly Government High Schools in the backwoods, barring one…Hills Night High School, MKG. Just imagine!…not a single student in these Government High Schools could clear the exam. While poorly groomed pupils would certainly be a valid excuse to an extent for the failure, the lack of committed attention being paid to them to improve their lot is equally in question. The once honourable profession has been converted into a commercial venture by many unscrupulous teachers in the urban centres, charging exorbitant tuition fees per subject from weaker students that they deliberately manufacture. Since most of rural parents are unable to afford such a practice the students are neglected to rot on their own. A dedicated teacher would normally be anxious to see his/her students improve on their performance by investing additional time to help the weaker lot without insisting on tuition fees. (The author was personally very fortunate to have come across one such teacher in his schooling years at Government High School, Kohima way back in 1965. It made all the world of a difference to his life). Given such an attention, the students ought not to have produced such a dismal result. Either this or else the teaching faculty in these Government High Schools must all be unqualified to man the post… they should all be compulsorily made to write Metric examination. They too are likely to produce the same kind of NIL result. The Head Master and all the teaching faculty in these High Schools deserves to be suspended without exception for their dismal performance as a warning to all. It clearly depicts a picture of a Government out of touch with the real world, unconcerned about the helplessly option less people relying on the system to provide the needed succour. As we climb up the ladder from the grassroots Village L P Schools to the High Schools level we see a lot of piled up garbage, detrimental to academic health of the students which remain unaddressed and oblivious to the School Education Department. Being a welfare State, the Government has established elementary schools in almost all the recognised villages to complete this frontal facade. The quality of knowledge being imparted is not an issue. In the earlier episode, the author had recounted his experience on how the village teachers used the students for bird trapping for his dinner, fetching water, firewood, and cultivation of his field under the guise of an extra-curricular subject which routinely dominated the school activities. Compounding the problem is the academic year starting with elementary text books not being provided in time. Communitization of education has shown no marked improvement in academic excellence. The business of checks and balances for the system to perform effectively does not exist. Other than to superficially gather acclaim for a path breaking reform at the National and International forum, the actual application at the grassroots is just but in name. A non-functional reform is no reform at all. The rural parents are rarely able to fathom the seriousness that the future destiny of their children are being scuttled by the sub-standard teachers in their village. As a consequence, unqualified, politically appointed proxy teachers wreak havoc doing nothing substantial but still being paid their monthly salary without any qualitative inputs. The only qualification they have is their political connections. It is a considered opinion that the politicians should exercise greater caution and abstain from this rampant, reckless teacher appointments for political gains, especially the unqualified and uncommitted ones. This is an important sector that needs dedication and commitment. What ought to register in our minds is that such an ignorant uncommitted teacher would serve the Government for at least 30 years as a Government servant. Within this period, he/she would be responsible for destroying that many generations of Nagas, singlehandedly. If one teacher can do this much of damage, then think of the ominous magnitude of many such creatures flooding all the Government High Schools in Nagaland. Consider the catastrophic damage continuously being perpetuated against our society by each single, politically linked, subhuman without scruples. (It goes without saying that there are many dedicated teachers out there doing their very best as well and this negative appraisal does not necessarily apply to them). The Education committees in the village pays no attention to this farce being enacted either because of ignorance in many cases or for the political allegiance to their constituency MLA. Awareness campaign to help them uphold their responsibility uprightly, is nonexistent. The department needs to put its feet down and ruthlessly root out all unqualified and proxy teachers from the system in coordination with the Village Education Committees, who know their surroundings intimately but are unwilling to act on their own without coercion. It is not only pointless but impossible to try and take the system forward with a back gear engaged.
The ‘no detention’ policy has destroyed real learning with students getting promoted with or without knowledge being acquired at their respective levels. These students comprise the bulk of the ME Schools enrolment/intake. At this level too, a good percentage of the teaching faculty serving in the rural areas either have no political connection or are on punishment postings for having backed the losing horse in the election and therefore not particularly committed to their job. Combine the poor quality students coming from village base and the lack of commitment amongst many a teacher, and it makes a potent recipe for failure. Students churned out from such a background mostly join Government High Schools for lack of choice…financially. While exception may exist, this perhaps is the broad scenario of our education system across the board. Under these circumstances producing NIL results is no surprise. The School Education Department should hang its head in shame at this pathetic performance…if there is any gray matter left in between their ears…and impose a system of accountability from top to bottom. Instead of investing more judiciously on the teaching faculty, especially for those having to man difficult outstations and make it worth their while to generate a vibrant platform of learning, we have come to a point where even the sanctioned amount for the teachers is being siphoned off. The picketing SSA teachers is perhaps the saddest testament of a department having lost all sense of direction to manage the system fairly, honestly and transparently. The lives and future of thousands of our children are being destroyed year after year. This department is directly or indirectly responsible for manufacturing and multiplying the misfits and drop outs within the community which invariably tells on the intellectual health of the Nagas as a whole in the long run. It goes against the grain of sensibility to let this unconcerned trend continue.
While not discrediting the NSF for concerning itself with other social issues, their fundamental responsibility and focus ought to be that of a watch dog over the sanctity of the educational system operating on a positive scale of transparency and accountability…because this subject is directly related to their well being and their future. They surely understand that our society consists of an overwhelming percentage of poor people as compared to that of the rich, who are unable to send their children to better private institutions even if they wish they could. The majority, especially those in the rural sectors, are therefore totally dependent on the Government High Schools in their neighbourhoods…and this is the kind of result being relentlessly produced unchecked, unpunished. Unless a strong deterrent action is taken and a strong voice is raised against glaring misdemeanours and mismanagement, the Government is not about to change its indifferent ways to improve its performance. NIL result will unfairly remain a way of life for the poor rural students. NSF ought to be standing side by side with the teachers in their quest for fair play. Their welfare being deliberately neglected by an uncaring Government is spilling over and directly impacting on the students…the ultimate victims. It would take more than a distant well wishing encouragement for the teachers to permanently resolve this sick dishonest trend.
There is a well known saying that “little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. The Department of School Education must be made to pull up its socks and terminate this consistent effort of producing this ‘dangerous thing’ for our society. Amongst the NGOs, who qualifies more befittingly than the NSF to hold the whip and make this transformation happen? Despite sever water scarcity in Town, it is recommended that the NSF in particular and all the other NGOs in general, wash their faces with ice cold water and coordinate appropriate action to stem this rotten tide… Salvage the future destiny of our children.
Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Rtd)
Forest Colony, Kohima;

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By EMN Updated: May 04, 2014 1:18:36 am