Nagaland’s Ailing Education Sector
Low enrolment of students and poor performance in examinations has become synonymous with government schools in Nagaland over the years. Civil society organisations, especially student bodies have been expressing concern over several issues that have been plaguing government educational institutions for decades but to no avail. The half-hearted attempts made by the Education department to crack down on one of the most visible and talked-about issues — proxy teaching – has failed to make any positive impact. Why is it so difficult to clean the mess in public sector schools that are supposed to mould the future of our children and the society? One of the problems is that everybody is aware of the problem and despises it, but at the same time don’t want to disappoint people they know.
The legislators fear the consequences of a backlash from the employees, who they heavily depend on during elections, and the people want change in everybody except their relatives and friends. At the end of the day, we put the future of our society in jeopardy by trying to please everyone. Though such a puzzling scenario is not uncommon in a closely knitted society like ours, leaving pressing issues that are crippling a sector as important as education, unattended for years have proven costly for the whole society. Sadly, there is more to this than meets the eye. The Dimapur Naga Students’ Union recently lamented the existence of proxy teaching, misuse of funds, poor infrastructure, and skewed teacher-student ratio in many schools in the district. If the state’s commercial hub that is home to hundreds of intellectuals still can’t address these problems, one can only imagine the condition of government schools in remote areas. No wonder the pass percentage of government schools in the recently declared HSLC examination was a paltry 36.62% with 33 institutes recording zero result. The stark disparity in performance between the districts is another aspect to ponder upon. While Kohima, Mokokchung and Peren recorded above 50% pass percentage, districts like Mon, Noklak, Longleng and Kiphire recorded below 20%. This indicates that all is not well, and an in-depth probe could open a nasty Pandora’s Box. To set things right, the Education department should firstly eradicate the proxy teaching practice and ensure that all schools have good infrastructure. Posting excess teachers in some schools while others face acute shortage for years is unacceptable. Besides ensuring that all schools have adequate teaching staff, special emphasis should be given to areas that face low enrolment of students and poor academic performance. Public support and vigilance from civil society organisations, student bodies, village councils, etc. are also necessary to eradicate the issues that have paralysed government schools. And the same yardstick should be used to penalised those who are not performing their duties.