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A TRIBUTE TO THE FREEDOM FIGHTER U KIANG NONGBAH

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Wa-isa Sumer
On the Occasion of his 148th Martyrdom which is usually observe in different parts of Meghalaya today the 30th of Dec 2010. Kiang Nongbah was hanged to death in Jowai his birth place by the Britishers in the year 1862.

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Agricultural Education

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Dr S.L. Marbaniang:
Our farmers in the State of Meghalaya have been generally following the footsteps of their parents or grandparents without any change or improvement at all. They continue to believe in the wisdom of the old and so look down at any interferences with the age-old tradition. To them the so called book learning or book knowledge has no relevance. “What can intellectuals or scholars with suits, boots and neckties do with practical agriculture?”, is an oft quoted remark by villagers.

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Agricultural Marketing

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Dr S L Marbaniang:
Farmers who cultivate the land usually have to face hurdles. Shortage of labour is a common feature because at the time of tilling the land every household in the rural areas is engaged in their own respective property. Even if labour is available, the daily wages are high. This is only the starting.
 At the time of harvesting the agricultural produce, the same problem occurs. In between, that is, right from day one to the last, care and maintenance of the crops are to be routinely undertaken. The worries that farmers encounter do not end here. Next comes the greater headache. Who will buy the agricultural produce and at what price? The anxiety becomes more complicated when crops are perishable goods. Usually, middle men exploit the poor, rural farmers whose chief aim is to make as much profit as possible.

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Atrocities against women

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By Dr. S.L.Marbaniang
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act, 2009) was notified on August 27, 2009 for general information. The notification for enforcing the provisions of the Act with effect from April 1, 2010 was issued on February 16, 2010. The main aim of RTE Act is to provide Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) under the legislative framework, which salient features are spelled out as follows:-
(1) The right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
(2) It clarifies that ‘compulsory education’ means obligation of the appropriate government to provide free elementary education and ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education to every child in the age group 6 – 14. ‘Free’ mean that no child shall be liable to pay any kind of fee or changes or expenses which may hinder the child from pursuing and completing elementary education.
(3) It makes provisions for a child not admitted in school to be admitted to a class appropriate for his age.
(4) It specifies the duties and responsibilities of appropriate Governments, local authority and parents in providing free and compulsory education, and sharing of financial and other responsibilities between the Central and State Governments.
(5) It lays down the norms and standards relating inter alia to Pupil Teachers Ratios (PTRs), buildings and infrastructure, school working days and teacher working hours.
(6) It provides for rational deployment of teachers by ensuring that the specified pupil teacher ratio is maintained for each school, rather than just as an average for the State or District or Block. This clearly ensures that there is no urban-rural imbalance in postings of teachers. It also provides for prohibition of deployment of teachers for non-educational work, other than decennial census, elections to local authority, state legislatures and parliament, and disaster relief.
(7) It provides for appointment of appropriate trained teachers, that is teachers with the requisite entry and academic qualifications.
(8) It prohibits (a) physical punishment and mental harassment, (b) screening procedures for admission of children, (c) capitation fees, (d) private tuition by teachers, and (e) running of schools without recognition.
(9) It provides for the following penalties: (a) For charging capitation fee, fine up to 10 times the capitation fee charged, (b) For resorting to screening during admission, Rs.25,000 for first contravention, Rs.50,000 for each subsequent contravention. (c) For running a school without recognition of continuous contravention Rs.10,000 for each day during which the contravention continue.
(10) It provides for development of curriculum in consonance with the values enshrined in the Constitution. This would also ensure the all-round development of the child, building on the child’s knowledge, potentiality and talent and making the child free of fear, trauma and anxiety through a system of child friendly and child centred learning.
(11) It provides for protection and monitoring of the child’s right to free and compulsory education and redressal of grievances by the National and State Commissions or Protection of Child Rights, which shall have the powers of a civil court.
Ministry of Human Resource Development has set up a Committee to identify Sarva Shiksha Abhiya (SSA) norms that that require to be brought in conformity with RTE norms and standards, including for example, pupil teacher ratio, teacher classroom ratio, etc.
Accordingly, the national mission of SSA has been clearly and specifically set up on a priority basis so that universal elementary education will be translated into reality to the fullest extent and expectation. The Prime Minister is the head of the National Mission for SSA. The Minister for Human Resource Development chairs the Executive Committee of the National Mission. The National Mission includes representation from major political parties, non-government sector, educationists, teacher’ unions, scientists and eminent experts.
As per the mainstream Indian culture girls are at a great disadvantage. Therefore, in order to accord priority to girls’ education, the government has initiated strategies for their betterment by targeting low literacy female pockets and reducing gender disparity. Therefore, Centre has laid emphasis on two programmes under SSA. These are the National Programme for Girls’ Education at Elementary Level (NPEGEL) and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV).
Under SSA, socially disadvantaged groups like SC, ST children and girls, and minority (Muslim) communities are getting more attention. Every child with special needs, irrespective of the kind, category and degree of disability, is provided education in an appropriate environment.
Retention and quality improvement are the most important components under SSA. To ensure appropriate, relevant and quality education, SSA provides support for teacher recruitment and training, curriculum and text book renewal, development and distribution of teaching-learning materials, annual school grants, pupil assessment systems, remedial teaching, computer-aided learning, establishment of decentralized academic resource support centres, distance education, monitoring and research activities related to quality issues.
SSA looks forward to decentralization and community ownership of schools. When community is involved at every phase of education, the sense of responsibility is greater. The government also makes its presence felt as a motivating force by making the funds flow to the schools after proper assessment of their presence. This constitutes about 50 percent of the total SSA funds.
Evaluation and assessment of the overall performances are quite satisfactory during these past few years. These encouraging results indicate that if all stakeholders be involved, performances in future will be brighter. Till December 2009, new schools opened were 300895. This means that 99 percent of the rural population has a primary school within one kilometer distance. The drop-out rate has been reduced to a large extent. In 2007-2008, the Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) at the national level was 46:1 for primary level and 35:1 for upper primary level. Teachers recruited up to December 2009 stood at 10.22 lakh. Nearly 30 lakh children were identified to be disable, that is, children with special need and nearly 25 lakh of them have been enrolled in school by 2009-10.
Under SSA guidance, local materials and technologies are being emphasized. Not only that this gives a local identity to the school and makes it easier to undertake repair and maintenance, but it boosts the local economy. The plan for the school infrastructures is attractive and appreciative. The necessary inputs are to be drawn in from the local sources, as far as possible so that every body has a sense of belonging.
SSA envisages a safe and secure, clean and hygienic school campus complete with toilet, drinking water, boundary, electrification, mid-day meal kitchen, playground and landscaping. Hence for all these different enabling factors, each school is expected to have a master plan. To earn trust and confidence from all quarters and to follow the universal practice of transparency, stress has been laid on the social audit by the community.
Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) Centres support diversified strategies for ‘out of school’ children, particularly in remote nook and corner of the State which are inaccessible and which are school-less habitations. AIE helps children who have been away from school for quite some time, caters specially to older children and tries to arrange short duration camps, either during summer or winter. Support is also extended to unrecognized/unregistered schools like the Muslim-run institutions of Makhtabs and Madarsas, and imploring them to adopt formal curriculum. In the absence of qualified teachers, the community has to find those who are trained under SSA.
Under EGS, educational facilities are set up in habitations which do not have a primary school within a distance of one kilometer. Tribal villages and hamlets, hilly and desert areas, etc. are eligible to have an EGS centre. The centre functions till a primary school is set up within a period of two years. EGS follows the usual curriculum and all enrolled children are provided free text books and a midday meal. All normal procedures are followed and a teacher, as far as possible, is to be recruited from within the community itself.
Financial norms have been laid down for EGS and AIE Centres and Government does all it could to uplift and improve them. Till September 2009-10, more than 23 lakh children have been enrolled in 25961 EGS centres, nearly 15 lakh children have been enrolled in AIE centres and more than a lakh EGS centres have been upgraded to primary schools. More than 2500 residential bridge courses were opened. Slightly more than 4000 centres have been opened for urban deprived children and 90 centres for children belonging to migrating families. In fact much more has been achieved during these last few years and the trend is bright and encouraging.
Throughout the country, due to cultural traits which have been all along inherent, girls are lagging behind in education. Hence, stress on girls’ education has been laid down. In the hilly state of Meghalaya, such a discrimination towards girls was never practiced. However, whatever the circumstances, gender equality and so gender gap should be narrowed down.

Suggestion:

It is high time for our State too to have proper introspection on how much we have spent and how far we have achieved in the various parameters of education. Hence a proper collection of statistical data on education at various levels will not only be an eye-opener but a guiding factor on our forward journey.

Various private agencies are operating and maintaining schools and colleges in Meghalaya. So they have greatly reduced the burden of the State in many respects. Therefore, for effective monitoring and coordination, synchronization between the government and private operators is essential. It is worth remarking that progress and development in our State, especially in the field of education and health, the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), that is, the different Christian denominations with the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian Missions at the forefront, the Rama Krishna Mission and other, have contributed a lot.


 

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A trusted pet and a loyal friend

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Dr S.L. Marbaniang
Human have been able to tame many animals and  bird. Consequently, they began to live and became part of the household. Subsequently, these pet stared to learn and understand their master. Among all the different pet, the dog is much trusted and a lovable companion.
A few years ago medical scientist in course of their research, come out with startling evidence. Sick people, especially children and growing kids, have been found to recover quickly if tamed and trained dogs were kept in their company. Even in some extreme cases, patient made miraculous comeback. During this time, it was observed that dogs were very attentive to their human friend. They seem to share their suffering and pain and to be happy and cheerful if any sign of recovery was made.

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