Thursday, 07 June 2012 00:00

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: educational reconstructions of Congress Government in Manipur

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A file photo of student in Manipur A file photo of student in Manipur

Educational reform in Manipur is a difficult task, which the new minister of education takes up with huge enthusiasm. Shri M. Okendra Singh has decided to travel the road less travelled by his predecessors in order to make a difference. It is indeed the road not taken, from where it is doubtful one may ever come back. A young dynamic and academic leader, the new minister may be able to qualitatively effect the whole structural ramifications in Manipur Education. In the past governments, people of Manipur witnessed varied ministers. Tall promises without any commitment and action featured in some high ranking deputies of the chief minister Okram Ibobi. The Chief Minister was probably disgraced on many occasions where his YES ministers hardly vomited appreciable actions for the public. There were also ministers in previous governments whose political career met an abrupt end with the completion of their tenure. This is because of the fact that they hardly delivered any public service worthy of remembrance and appreciation. This time, let the people pray for action-oriented ministers instead of the previous inactive tall talk ministers. Promises kept will glorify the individual ministers, whereas non-attainment of assurances will surely discredit Chief Minister O. Ibobi in the long run. Among the new ministers, a few are keeping mum. Some are highly active and innovative. Newspaper front pages for the last few weeks have been filled with promises of overhauling the degraded systems in their respective sectors. Concerning a few departments, some actions have proved visible to the public eye. A positive perspective in governance may well be expected with the new energetic ministers in the Ibobi Singh ministry swearing to bring in numerous innovations. Promises kept will certainly reveal the commitment and ability of the individual ministers while promises unattained will divulge the irresponsibility of chief minister O. Ibobi as he leads the mission. Negative results of the tall talks will boomerang on the state’s leadership. Governance is a mission and sacrifice of selfishness among the governors. Apparently, some of the cabinet ministers have come out to work with a social service mission and political commitment.

The Chief Minister assures adequate power and water supplies for the state during his swearing-in for the third time. Home Minister Shri Gaikhangam pledges to strengthen the police structure in remote hill areas. Industry Minister Govindas Konthoujam affirms for a suitable industrial policy of the state. Dr. Kh Ratankumar has already set on his highway improvement mission in the hill districts. Social Welfare Minister AK Mirabai expresses her initiatives for equity and quality provision of basic amenities. Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Francis Ngajokpa personally inspected the development schemes taken up in hill districts and articulated his concerns for sub-standard works. Agriculture Minister Md. Nasir reveals his plans to seek possible central aide for development of agriculture sector. IFCD Minister Ngamthang Haokip chalks out plans for conservation and boosting of Singda Multi-purpose project. PHED Minister I. Hemochandra assures the completion of much-talked about sewerage project in Imphal by March next year. He discloses plans for sea change in water supply in the state. Among the new enterprises of the present ministry, Shri M. Okendra’s reformative initiatives in education and civil supplies sectors are laudable, although the materialization of promises may not be a simple and smooth task. Education has been the most notorious of the portfolios in previous ministries. It has been indeed an untouchable portfolio among ministers, as those holding this sector rarely returned back to power. Being the most corrupt and irregular department, education has almost lost public confidence and credibility during the last few decades. Quality education produces quality society. It is the most important sector which needs urgency and prioritization to bring about a civilized society. Fortunately of now, the people of Manipur find an academic, committed and energetic reformer in the person of Shri M. Okendra who has just landed on the road not taken by his predecessors. He comes out with tall promises and has demonstrated certain actions in regard to education and civil supplies sectors. The pledges of delivering LPG to domestic houses, of making available vehicle fuel round the clock and in sufficient quantity, of smashing black marketers, so on and so forth are being appreciated by all and sundry. Reformation in education being the biggest challenge is the most welcome project of the young minister. He has pledged to finalize seniority list of teachers, which became unrealistic for the last three decades. A new education is being executed with urgency, for which the minister is inviting suggestions from interested persons via the media. Public participation in education reformation is on the cards now. Political commitment coupled with active involvement, sacrifice and dedication of the leadership is the need of the hour to realize dreams of reformation. Such a venture never surfaced in the Manipur political environment in the past, nor any minister vies for that. Reformation in Education sector lies mostly in having good, academic and dedicated teachers in government schools. As there were rampant corruption and bribery in appointments of school teachers, the appointed teachers lack knowledge of the subject and teaching enthusiasm. Appointment based only on certificates and bribes can not produce quality teachers. Very unfortunate thing is the average unemployed educated youths of the state turning to teaching profession, as their job avenues are scanty. Even wives of high ranked officers, MLAs and Ministers vie for teaching profession as their leisure-destinations. Quality education lies in quality teachers. Numerous poor and well-experienced graduates serving in private schools could not become government teachers due to high level of corruption. If possible, education revamping means appointment of quality teachers on the basis of complete knowledge test, not solely on certificates. Corruption should be completely shunned in teacher appointments. Existing teachers need regular refresher trainings to compulsorily update their knowledge regularly. Besides framing a rigid transfer and posting policy for teachers, there must be a Public Grievance or Public Relations Cell in School Education to listen to all kinds of complaints from guardians and public. Urgent actions regarding teacher attendance, learning inadequacies, provision of infrastructure and student amenities etc. may be taken up through the newly mooted Cell. The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) needs to become academic by having an academician as its Director. The public hopes for good and commensurate actions from the new education minister.

Seram Neken

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