Meghalaya Minister for School Education and Literacy Deborah C Marak, while celebrating the Teachers Day reminded the entire teaching community to be professionals by completing the training programmes within March 2019, the deadline set by the Centre. She added that the state government along with the Government of India is on a mission for a 100 per cent reduction of the backlog of untrained teachers being the commitment of the government to implement and achieve this target by March 31, 2019.
Marak also reminded that teaching should be taken as serious profession which is instrumental to build strong pillars and shape the future of the children. She also stressed that it is high time the state has trained teachers and professionalism to ensure quality education which can bring the state at par with the rest of the country.
The state of Meghalaya as per official sources is having around 20,000 untrained teachers. Of these, over 10, 000 have applied admission for undergoing training in diploma in elementary education for the current year.
The 13th President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, during his last year in office recalled his early life as a teacher in Suri Vidyasagar Collage of West Bengal before joining politics. He said that he loves teaching and remembers his days as a teacher fondly. The President also stressed the importance of teachers, saying: Teachers are like the soft and skillful hands of a potter. They mould the destiny of thousands of students, in turn shaping the future of a nation.
Speaking about Mukherjee’s love for teaching, here in the state of Meghalaya, teaching is a profession which has turned into dumping ground for political appointees at the cost of education. Sadly, the education system in the state of Meghalaya, right from play school to the university level is focusing on branding, style-statement, hence the traditional ‘temple of knowledge’ is now turned into a business enterprise where students are the customers, parents the sponsors and knowledge and textbooks are the commodities the institution is trading in. The annual business of the schools through the sale of books, uniforms and other accessories is nothing to be scoffed at and the costs concerned are often well beyond the reach of the economically weaker sections of the society.
As mentioned, the education institutions considered students as customers, even some of the teaching faculties are making the students complete their individual research works, while in professional courses, the students are used to complete their individual projects, both during class hours or outside the classroom, in the name of ‘practicals’.
The Internal Assessments marking introduced by the university in professional courses have given a free hand to the teaching faculty for manipulation on completion of their individual contracts. Here, the students are only provided the marks, while the amount received for the work is at the discretion of the respective teacher.
The recent trend of schools giving project works outside the syllabus in pursuit of ‘a modern education system’ is all the rage where it is seen that class one students are made to name all the members of Union Government, class three students are made to name the parasites on human body or class five students are made to name the causes of all virus. Some even asked the school students to name the headlines of the newspaper during the British Raj.
The only sources of information for the school students are the cyber cafes, because the free M-tablets to students are distributed only to the higher classes, that too without any internet connection. People elsewhere are talking about E-classrooms but here in the state of Meghalaya, the classroom for the junior students have now been extended to the cyber cafes.
There are institutions which offer professional courses, reprimanded the students for internship outside the state after classes on the pretext that no formal permission is sought. Meanwhile the same teacher is free to send out the students during class hours to complete the project on behalf of the teachers, that too without the permission of the Head of the Institution, such is the style of teaching today.
The recommendation for government job is nothing new in the system here where the same is being practiced for admission of the wards. Worst is the appointment of teachers in a similar manner. Taking a cue from Mukherjee, who is advocating for revamping of the education system, he has stressed on more research and publication works from the teachers rather than depending on textbooks written by others, more so the foreign authors.
On the contrary, the standard of the education system in Meghalaya is in decline, overshadowed by various anomalies from tampering of marks for the appointment of Lower Primary teachers to the recent appointment of teachers for the premier school of the Meghalaya Government.
Education scams in Meghalaya have been so frequent that the general masses have turned immune to any fraud relating to the education system here. Be it the mushrooming of colleges and universities just to make quick money or appointment of teachers right from the Lower Primary section to the University through political patronage.
In the past, a survey was conducted by the State Government on the implementation of Government of India’s Flagship programme – Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) mid-day meals. In Meghalaya, the contracts were awarded to some unrecognized educational institutions, who in return outsourced it to students studying in the same institute. How does one expect the accuracy of the finding by some under graduate students? In the first place, how did the government award such a contract to some unqualified institution to conduct such research work while paying full fees to the institution?
Although there is a prescribed format regarding the basic requirement for starting a college or university, it is strange that there are still one Room Universities, colleges, and roof-less schools in Meghalaya. There is no checking over the usage of genuine software for computer related subjects, or proper science laboratory for practical classes, yet the state government never takes any action to close down such fly by night universities who are wasting the time of the students even as the owner of the institution goes laughing to the bank with the loot from the students.
Such universities mostly offer professional courses, having no qualified teachers to guide the students on research work, except encouraging those to copy – paste from the work of other research scholars. How do we expect to improve the human resources in the state? Such institutions, read as business houses, should be closed down by the authority, even the pressure groups, civil societies, more so the students unions remain aloof from such malpractices happening in the state; the reason is unknown. It is time to restore the traditional education system to impart knowledge to students, and not turning them into the customers, it is indeed necessary to introspect on the teaching profession on this auspicious Teachers Day.