The Manipur government’s ambitious education mission - School Fagat-Hansi was introduced in May 2019, to give renewed thrust towards improvement in government schools. It aims to improve physical and manpower infrastructures in all government schools across the state. Chief Minister N Biren Singh had said during the launch of the mission that all government schools in the state would be developed as model schools under the mission.
However, Eastern Christian High School, which is one of the oldest government high schools in Manipur’s Ukhrul district, is far from being a model school as it continues to face the problem of acute shortage of teaching staff.
Located in the remote north of Ukhrul district, the school is struggling to provide proper education to students with only four teachers taking up the entire task of running the institute, though the school has 23 sanctioned posts.
Like Eastern Christian High School, several government schools in Ukhrul and Kamjong districts are facing the problem of acute shortage of staff in schools.
When the Imphal Free Press enquired about the functioning of the ECHS, it was found that the school has been functioning without a headmaster and assistant headmaster. The school also lacks qualified science and arts teachers.
The numbers of teaching and non-teaching staffs sanctioned for the Eastern Christian High School are headmaster, assistant headmaster, six arts graduate teachers, four science graduate teachers, one Hindi graduate teacher, three matriculate teachers, one Hindi matriculate teacher, one office assistant, one PET, two primary teachers, one grade IV and one chowkidar.
Speaking exclusively to the Imphal Free Press, R Timothy, Convenor, School Management Development Committee (SMDC) of Eastern Christian High School, Chingjaroi village lamented that out of the 23 sanctioned post, only six posts namely two matriculate teachers, one Hindi teacher, one primary teacher, one office assistant, one PTI teacher and one chowkidar were found stationed and performing their duties.
"Let alone science and arts graduate teachers, there is no headmaster and assistant headmaster in the school," he alleged.
He then made a strong appeal to the state government, particularly Chief Minister N Biren Singh, the education minister, concerned area legislator, who is also the state cabinet minister, and director education (s), to promptly look into the teaching staff crisis facing the school so that the Eastern Christian High School is reinvigorated and made to function properly again.
"School-going children deserve to have a peaceful learning environment and their minds moulded in sync with their interest and passion. Sadly, absence of adequate teachers has shaken children's right to basic education," he lamented.
Eastern Christian High School ECHS, ever since its inception in 1962, has been relentlessly imparting quality education to students coming from far flung remote villages of the district and has produced huge chunks of people in high position in various fields.
However, the school today is fishing in troubled water for want of adequate teachers. Only when the state government steps in and acts upon the future of this government's school would it be safe, and continues its long standing avowed reputation to impart education to children from remote villages, especially the poor section who could ill-afford private schools.
It may be mentioned that ECHS was included in the Phase-II of the State Government's "school fagat hansi mission." Building construction has already begun. However, with 95 per cent of the teaching staff found absent at their duly assigned school, the fate of the student is at stake because well-maintained buildings cannot salvage and take charge of educating the young minds who always need a teacher to guide and mould them.
Teaching is considered a noble job because of the vital roles teachers play in creating a civilized and peaceful society. However, the stark reality facing several government schools today is that many of them, with a few exceptions, only want to enjoy their salary sitting at the comfort of their home substituting their mandated duty to substitute, at a meagre amount.