The sight of thousands of school and college teachers taking to the streets in state capital of Meghalaya has ceased to arouse the sympathy of masses, not to mention the government, as such protests by teaches are so frequent and every successive government fails to address the grievances. On April 12, 2017, the teachers, under the banner of the Joint Action Committee of All Teachers Association of Meghalaya (JACATAM), held the protest near Raj Bhavan demanding 100 per cent enhancement of salary for ad hoc lower and upper primary teachers as well as for Hindi teachers. A protest march was also taken.
The agitating teachers had also torched the effigy of Meghalaya Chief Minister, Dr Mukul M Sangma, as they protested against the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government’s unresponsive and adamant attitude towards their demands and have threatened to resort to extreme agitation from next week if the government failed to fulfill their demands.
As mentioned, the issues of the teachers in Meghalaya seem to be lingering on for decades, while the other states are talking of reforms. It is time to accept that the modern education has taken a drastic turn, where the teachers now have to explain to the parents why their child fails to clear the examination. There are instances where the students had even threatened the teachers for being harsh in taking classes, or correcting their conduct.
Of course there are many who took up teaching as stepping stones, hence, such section of the teachers adopt self-propaganda policy to remain in the good books of the students, such teachers do not mind to smoke, drink and even party with the students while failing to deliver in the classes which has resulted in making the students unemployable. In this backdrop, the Primary Teachers remain unpaid for months and have taken to streets to demand their salary.
The contemporary issues in almost all the educational institutions in Meghalaya are the consumption of drugs and other intoxicating substances, smoking and consumption of tobacco is most common amongst the students and these are just a few of the problems the authorities are facing. If not tackled professionally, education institutions will soon be the hiding place of all the notorious characters of the society.
The 45 year old Meghalaya, on many occasions has employed scholars from other universities to draft policies and project works, and these are not by the students from the state. The research work in most cases just end up in the library of the university, very few get published, which only means most of the research work is not at all suitable even for other scholars as reference, nor could the findings and recommendation which is part of the thesis be adopted in the society.
The state government keeps facing agitations from the society demanding change, till date none of the research scholars have ever produced any practical suggestion to end the impasses between various organizations, pressure groups or even a solution to end the National Green Tribunal ban on mining in the state by suggesting ways and means of restoring the environment and adoptable Mining Policy.
None could come out with recommendations on how to end the traffic congestion, revamp the education system, generate means for employment within the existing situation, and the list will go on for the academia to provide input to industry and government.
A University’ role is not confined only to produce engineers, doctors, bureaucrats, politicians and others. All need to be inter- connected as pointed out by the President of India towards building a progressive society, improve the work culture of every individual and more so produce morally, spiritually and well conducted human resources. NEHU has miles to go to be an instrument of change for society.
Also, Right to Education seems only applicable to the elite of the society, while the economically weaker sections are being barred on the grounds of either being single or uneducated parents, not owning a vehicle, or the child failing to communicate in English or inability to identify colours during the personal interview.
The authority concerned should not ignore the private schools, especially checking on the qualified teachers and assistants as they are dealing with young minds. A lesson or two should be learned from the unfortunate incident of a private nursery school in Bangalore (now Bengaluru) where the toddlers are being sexually abused due to the carelessness of the school authority concerned.
The Delhi High Court Order issued on November 24, 2014 should be extended to the state of Meghalaya. The High Court here should also order all the educational institutions, especially the government aided ones to also reserve 25 percent seats for the poor children in the society; failing which their schemes and government support should be withdrawn immediately.
Along with the Court Order, the Prime Minister should also extend his Order to abolished interviews for lower posts in the Central government, which should also be extended to the education institutions in context of conducting interview for toddles and parents.
As mentioned, in the case of interview for toddlers too there is no psychologist who can judge the young mind, and the poor parents, more so the single parents who are debarred the chance to send their wards to the schools of their choice.
Once more rural students could receive better education, the qualification of the teaching staff will surely improve, meaning, all political appointment of teachers will be reduced, so also for the primary teachers. Then only will every school be able to sustain itself, which means the over dependence on government will reduce. Once it achieve such status, the issues of non-payment of salary or underpaid teachers will be eradicated and the foundation of education system will be much better, hence, all the stakeholders of the education system in Meghalaya should figure out long term solutions, besides trying to solve only the burning issues, otherwise such annual affairs will keep dominating the headlines, and the general masses will keep wondering why the teachers have to takes to streets as they nature and groom the human resources for the state.