A holistic approach to the problems of education in India, particularly in the state of Manipur.

(This paper was presented in a seminar Ėon the improvement Education System in Manipur- held at Kumbi College, Manipur under Sponsorship of the University Grants Commission, October, 1999)

H. Jayantakumar Singh,
Department of Mathematics,
D.M. College of Science, Imphal.

Introduction

Every social thinker falls back to the need of imparting education to the masses when all his efforts to bring about a qualitative change in the general standard of the people falls flat. Socrates consoled himself by considering the ignorance and illiteracy of the people when his lifelong dream or the improvement of the new generation came to a naught.

Education for a small section of the population as was the case in the ancient Indian and Roman societies had relevance when the common people had no role in the affairs of the State. But in modern times when the affairs of the state lie in the hands of the people, awareness and participation by the majority of the masses in the affairs of the state is the hallmark of progress. And the key to progress is education for all.

The main reason responsible for the failure of many of the welfare plans like family planning, eradication of social evils, failure to elect the right representatives of the people at the times of election etc. is the scourge of illiteracy of the masses. If we examine the rates of success of social welfare plans in the different states of India we find that there is a very high correlation between these rates of success and percentage of literacy of the States.

The hurdle that a planner of education faces is the twin problems of educating the illiterate masses for which the motto is education for all on the one hand, while on the other hand, it is the task of keeping abreast the standard of education, in the international arena for which education should be for a selected few.

Added to his woes is the ever increasing pressure is to slash the per capita share in the Education Budget in favor of other priorities of national importance. In spite of the best efforts and avowed promises to allocate 6% of GNP to education, no central Government has so far been able to keep this promise.

Faced with these realities, problems of education cannot be discussed in isolation. A comprehensive view of the causes and effects of the various problems in the field of education is very much called for. This Paper is a humble Attempt in this direction.

Pre 1991 (New Economic Policy) Scenario:

Right from the very inception, the main task of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has been to make recommendations to attract the best talents to the profession of teaching and research. Various Schemes have been formulated to attract and retain personalities of high caliber in the academic field by way of giving relatively high scales of pay and other favorable service conditions to teachers and researchers,

Particularly, in the recommendations of the Commission implemented the Central Government with effect from 1-1-1973 and other subsequent ones till 1996 it had been made a point that salary of an academician holding the post of Professor of Eminence was made comparable with those of highest post that a bureaucrat can occupy viz., the Cabinet Secretary and those of the three Service Chiefs. Apart from the salary many incentives were offered to good teachers and productive researchers.

The Central Government in its New Education Policy, 1986, made a thrust for Universal Education and establishment of Centers of Excellence throughout country.

Till that time people in the Academic circle had the slightest idea that the Central Government and subsequently the Governments were going to make a watershed in the financing policy in Education particularly in Higher Education of the country after the adoption of the New Economic Policy, 1991.

After the adoption of the New Economic Policy, 1991, thereby opening, the flood gate of the Indian market of not only consumer goods but also of services to the multinational companies, the concept of old values like predominance of national interest in selecting consumer goods, service to the nation, self satisfaction with the indigenous products have given way to the infallibility of the dictum of the sovereignty of the consumer's money. There is a gradual disappearance of the policy of protectionism in respect of sick and not so sufficient institutions and centers of production. It is a well felt effect that more sophisticated and convenient products of the multinational companies are gradually marginalizing consumer goods day by day. Even in sectors of primary production like agriculture and farming for seeds and other essential items of farming which were traditionally self sufficient, the farmers are gradually depending on alien hands. Works of the farmers like preservation of seeds for the near season etc. are being slowly replaced by laboratory activities of the scientists. The story of Terminator Seed is well known among cotton growers of the south India.

Education Policy in Manipur:

The present scenario

The present scenario in the Indians institution, particularly in the state of Manipur is similar to the ambiance where Darwinian law of natural selection' "Survival of the Fittest" holds true. Human laws have components of compassion and magnanimity while natural laws recognize only the fittest.

When people violet human laws framed by themselves natural law automatically rules the roost. This holds even in markets of consumer goods and of human resources. Once protection is withdrawn.

It may be a matter of ones opinion that the present state of affairs in this state in areas of education, social order, political instability, general uncertainty in public life and above all the aimlessness among the Youth who are behaving like a frustrated lot is mainly due to the fact that the means of living available in the state which are also gradually drying up has failed to give hope to any body particularly to the younger generation. Ironically on the other hand more lucrative and prospective means of living have mostly gone beyond their reach. The present social system including education system has failed to the Younger generation to meet more challenge and daring situations.

The symptoms of decadence are easily observable in forms of parochial and bigoted movements leading to internecine feuds of communal and ethnic clashes.

More victim flare-ups are not unexpected if the present trend is not reversed. These few that have been started are only the proverbial tips of the iceberg. If we think of the ways out of this predicament, two suggestions are available. One is closing of all doors to external agents and reversing the Economic Policy, 1991 as was done in China and the erstwhile Soviet Union until a targeted stage of progress is achieved. This, however, is more unlikely to be implement able. The wind of change is blowing from all directions. And reversing a trend continued for about a decade may not be easy.

Thus the only plausible way is to go with the changing wave but with careful steering. Giving Government protection to all establishments in the core-sector to a certain stage and privatizing them for global competition is perhaps the only plausible way. Out of them only those who are fit for struggle will survive. The process is like releasing fingerlings in the lake or ocean after hatching and rearing them in the nursery pond for sometime.

A Suggestion...

Education, particularly higher education is one to be treated in this way.

Right to Education is now considered to be taken as a fundamental right of the Citizens of India. As envisaged in the Directives Principles of the Constitution of India, Education up to the 10th standard of the 10+2+3+2 system to each and every citizen up to the age of 14 years should be a constitutional obligation.

Beyond this stage only two categories of students should prosecute higher studies. The first category is to be constituted by a small number say, 10% of students of each class who have real aptitude for higher studies. Special aptitude tests can be conducted by competent authorities. The expenses for education for this category should be born by the institutions of higher education themselves. The second category of students should be formed by those learners whose parents are ready to spend substantially for the education of their children/wards. Higher Education should be made self-sufficient undertakings. The worth and viability of the institutions of higher learning must be exposed to national or even international arena of competition.

The bulk of the students not included in these two categories can be absorbed in vocational courses like horticulture in the hill areas of this state which have a very vast scope for gainful self employment opportunities if proper land laws are framed and sufficient capital investments are made in the form of terrace formation and transport facilities. Other vocational courses that have limited scope employment like motor mechanic works electronic, photographic and other similar avenues can be identified depending on the number of consumers. For this a current record from the market is to be maintained.

This policy will encourage quality in education over and above giving gainful employment to each and every youth of the state.

Coming to the imparting of Education, it is well known fact that effective education needs two components:

If an educational institution possesses both the components, it is ideal. When this is not the case, we get two situations, viz.:
Of course, we have neglected the case in which both components are not so geed, In such a case it is doubtful if the institution can survive.

It is a question of ones opinion in which of the above two situations the institutions should prove its worth better.

In my opinion, the second case in which more importance is given to the teachers deserves more attention.

This was the case in the system of education in the olden days. Centers of higher learning are weighed for the teachers and the traditions associated with the institutions rather than the other facilities available there.

Thus the component of the teacher constitute the vital area to be carefully attend to.

It is also the area where the authorities have mast miserably failed in developing a mechanism to segregate the dutiful and productive teachers from the non-performing ones or those discharging their duties perfunctionarily. The later are like drones in beehive, only consuming the nectar without doing any work.

All the attempts by various appointing authorities including the UGC to recruit teachers by framing stringent Recruitment Rules (R.Rís) like possession of consistently good academic record, passing of the National Eligibility Test (NET) etc., do not yield the expected results.

In fact the stringent R.Rís are only a set of necessary conditions. In other words possession of all the conditions of the R.Rís does not guarantee that an appointee will be a good teacher. What is more desirable is the framing of a set of sufficient conditions on satisfaction of which a teacher can be considered.

Here is a suggestion to evaluate a teacher in service in respect of his academic accountability. R.Rís are necessary conditions to recruit a good teacher while these Evaluation Results (E.Rís) are to show his/her worth as a teacher.

A teacher has two primary duties:

    • in pedagogy
    • in evaluation
A teacher's accountability is to be established in regards to both the aspects. For this, teachers can be categorized under the following three groups:
    1. Those teachers teaching up to the 8th standard, whose students do not face any Public examination at the end of the course.
    2. Those teachers teaching up to the 12th standard whose students face two public examinations, one at the end of the 10th and another at the end of the 12th standard.
    3. Those teaching in the College and University classes whose students face as many as five public examinations, three in the undergraduate and two in the P.G. levels.
Teachers in category (a) can be evaluated in respect of accountability by reports of the Head of the institution and Inspection staff as regards their regularity and effectiveness in teaching.

Teachers of category (b) can be judged from the following standpoints:

This proposed system of objective judgments should replace the presently followed more or less subjective assessments in the A.C.Rís.
 
Only those teachers found suitable by a standard measure in the light of the above method of evaluation should be considered for promotion or career advancement. Those who are not found satisfactory must be given more chances. Only in unavoidable and exceptional cases punitive action can be contemplated.

Another aspect is the establishment of institutions of higher learning. It must be based on need, instead of the presently followed district wise consideration.

Conclusion

For a better social order, a meaningful education system is the first step and is of paramount importance. And for the effective implementation of an Education System for the teachers are the most important agents. Hence, revamping the moral and intellectual strength of teaching community is a program not to be delayed further. All these will remain as some wishful thinking if there is no political will of the ruling elite.

Let us mold the thinking of the ruling elite by expressing our desire to progress.

References

1) Evaluation in Higher Education, UGC, 1961.
2) Report on Examination Reform, UGC, 1962.
3) Guidelines for Scaling and Grading, NCERT, 1988.
4) Technique of Paper Setting, BSEM, 1991.


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