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Editorial

Is education in doldrums?

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By EMN Updated: Nov 22, 2013 9:15 pm
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[dropcap]O[/dropcap]f late, we keep getting reports of students getting restless short of violence against their teachers. The instances are numerous to recount here. However, the most recent is the case of agitating students of Government Hindi Institute (GHI), Dimapur who vandalized the office of chamber of Hindi Education Officer (HEO), H.N. Dubey.
The reason for this unfortunate incident was that the HEO did not respond to the request to attend a joint meeting as also failure of the Government in removing him after expiry of deadline issued for his removal. The agitation began on November 13 just one day before Teachers’ Day with picketing of the office and demand for Dubey’s removal for alleged “inhuman behaviour.”What is to be noted is that it were not only the students but the teachers of the institute as well who had accused the Principal of misusing funds meant for students, hostels and staff since a year ago. Both the teachers and students had expressed resentment that the department of school education “continues to show apathy to the appeals” made to the authorities against the Principal for his alleged financial mismanagement. What has been infuriating has been the inaction of the school education department for not going into the matter and taking any corrective measures, if need be, despite at least ten complaints and appeals to the authorities concerned but all in vain, even though the additional director and deputy director of the institute and members of the Hindi teachers’ union also had visited in an effort to assuage the situation.
Thus the students took recourse to their extreme step. They were fully supported by the All Nagaland Hindi Teachers’ Union (ANHTU) which had already given report to the Government. Students agitating against their teachers is not a new phenomenon in India as such but these were mainly in the realms of personal grudges. In Nagaland, such episodes were unheard of and that too, supported by other teachers. The sad part is that this agitation had to start when the students had to appear for their mid-term examinations from November 21.
The public more than any other sector is well acquainted with the anomalies in the education department and the lack of a monitoring system. But vandalizing the office of the school Principal also raises disturbing questions of the relationship between students and the institute of learning. At the core will be questions on the kind of values that are being imparted to the students. Values of loyalty, discipline, honour, honesty, hard work, understanding, respect for authority etc… Two wrongs don’t a right make.
The Nagaland school education department has been afflicted with several accusations over the years right from before the NPF-led DAN Government ever came to power. One main grouse has been the unstinted appointment of bogus teachers meaning people appointed who were never physically present but salaries drawn on their behalf. Such persons came to be called “ghost teachers” after the term “substitute teachers” went out of vogue. Plus what has been described as “back door” appointments because the applicant had a political godfather but had no aptitude for the job as such except perhaps maybe “prestige” as a government teacher.
Substitute teachers are still prevalent particularly in the rural areas even today. By this it means that a genuinely appointed teacher gives place to a cousin or friend to go and teach on his/her behalf and share the salary accordingly. This allows the original teacher to pursue other means of income generating schemes. To give the devil his due, many of these substitute teachers have been known to do their jobs well because although qualified, they had been unable to get a job but required at least some means of livelihood.
The malaise seems to continue. Why? Education is something that every parent from top to bottom on the income ladder envisages for the children. To secure distinction in education has never been the sole privilege of those from richer families. After all, good money may buy good admission to reputed schools and institutions but true education can never be injected into anyone’s brain like an anti-biotic. One has to strive and sweat for it. And history is replete with such examples.
It is believed that any malaise has its own remedy (even AIDS will one day be defeated/overcome). The incident at the Hindi school is a spark that contains within it the potential for starting a fire.
It would be best the if authority is not caught napping any longer on this all pervasive assue.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 22, 2013 9:15:16 pm