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A prayer for education

IFP Editorial: The thought process of the policy planners and political bosses always seems to work on piecemeal basis and at the end, it always seems to boil down to development of physical infrastructure.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 10 May 2022, 6:59 pm

(File Photo: IFP)
(File Photo: IFP)

 

Nobody said anything when the all-important Education portfolio was quietly handed over to Thounaojam Basantakumar Singh, a retired IPS officer and representative of Nambol constituency. In the last BJP-led government, the prestigious portfolio was given to another retired IPS officer Th Radheshyam Singh of Heirok and later on to Salam Rajen Singh of Lamsang constituency.

There is no hard and fast rule that a minister handling Education should be one who is educationally well qualified. But everyone expects someone who understands the importance of education in shaping the future of a society and one who has the intellect and courage to usher in reforms in this sector to meet the challenges of modern day education.

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Last year, a video clip of S Rajen Singh trying to communicate in English the entire gamut of his political career and achievements went viral in the social media. While the questions were asked in Hindi by the interviewer, the minister was answering in English language and he was trying very hard to communicate even sometimes with eyes shut and one is left wondering why the minister chose to communicate in English while his mother-tongue is Manipuri, a language included in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution. 

Rajen was publicly ridiculed and even comments were passed as to how a person who cannot speak proper English be the minister in-charge of Education. It was rather unkind. But then, one expects many things from a minister handling Education as the fate of our children and youth is in his or her hands. Again, it is the second largest government department where the main chunk of employees are primarily teachers and scholars of all hue. The teaching community is still the most respected lot in any society.

Being the son of a former Union minister, the new Education Minister Th Basantakumar Singh had a stint in the corridors of power in New Delhi when he was OSD to his father. But, he is yet to spell out his vision and direction with regard to reforms in the education sector. In recent times, school education in Manipur has become a fertile ground for experimenting with projects for ‘development’ of government schools.

The so-called projects, though well intended, lack a holistic approach for all-round development or for overhauling the school education system in the state which had all along been plagued with so many ailments and inconsistencies. The thought process of the policy planners and political bosses always seems to work on piecemeal basis and at the end, it always seems to boil down to development of physical infrastructure.

Previous governments and ministers have tried to address the issue in their own ways. A few have introduced the idea of model schools in the different districts, equipping the so-called model districts with new infrastructure and facilities and posting good teachers. Yet, it failed to garner the desired performance of students from these model schools while on the other hand it enriched favoured contractors who were entrusted with repairing and refurbishing the schools, and supplying new furniture besides other items.

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ALSO READ: Private schools continue to dominate education scenario despite efforts to boost government schools' status in Manipur

The BJP-led government also introduced the ‘School Fagathansi Mission’ in a seemingly new perspective in a wider canvas. However, the focus seems to be directed more on development of physical infrastructure rather than overall development. The same basic principle of infrastructure development or improvement and infusion of more teachers to the identified schools is at work here.

We had earlier suggested the constitution of an Education Commission composed of renowned educationists besides several other stakeholders to study the situation and recommend new measures and policies to enhance the school education system, in the light of the new Education Policy announced by the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. It is time for ministers to shed the notion that they are all-knowing and they always have the right solution on their fingertips, and must learn to rely on expert opinion which in this context would be the proposed Education Commission.

 - EDITORIAL

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First published:10 May 2022, 6:59 pm

Tags:

School Fagathansi Missionmanipur education ministers rajen singhThounaojam Basantakumar SinghTh Basantakumar Singh

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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