Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Kongkal Sangma is perhaps the first Head of Government who dares to acknowledge that the performance of a number of private universities in Meghalaya which are mushrooming in the state are not up to the mark. He stated that he is very discouraged to witness the kind of practices which failed to impress the state, when it comes to contribution in uplifting the education and higher education benchmark in the state.
Conrad was speaking at the Convocation of one of the Private Universities in the city on September 8, 2018 and has also informed that theMeghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by National People’s Party (NPP) headed by him will be unveiling the State Education Policy which by the end of this month, which will focus on higher and technical education besides other education related issues.
While pointing out that most of the private universities operating in Meghalaya are not performing, the Chief Minister warned that his government will take action against such private universities, making sure that only serious people and serious players and only people who want to give back and work for education are brought into the picture and given the right to start an education centre.
Let us not forget that Shillong was once considered as the “hub” of education where students from all over, specially from North East India, come to pursue their academic pursuits. This has resulted in the mushrooming of such institutions in the state forgetting the ethos of empowering the youth through education which has now turned into a lucrative business setting aside the basic requirements.
It is in this hub of education that the teachers of all levels have agitated for lack of facilities and security on which neither the state government nor the Central authorities - to which the educational systems are affiliated - are keen to resolve. Does this reflect to this state as the ‘hub of education’?
The economy of the state is largely dependent on the educational institutions here, which can be witnessed during the annual holiday of schools, when the whole city wears a deserted look. This is in stark contrast to the far-flung institutions which wear the same deserted look even with the classes are in session either due to no teaching staff or no infrastructure.
Then comes the fake university episode followed by the tampering of marks for appointment of Primary School Teachers. What is even worse is the demand for appointing only the indigenous tribals teachers in all schools, colleges and universities here; this is yet another problem for the education system here.
Doesn’t stating more and more schools and colleges even while failing to provide the required infrastructure both to the teachers and the students, need immediate attention? But who will bell the cat?
In this democratic country, this state’s uncountable NGOs need to take up this serious issue of education by playing the role of a parent, by assuring a better educational system to the next generation, and keeping a watch on both the government and the institutions, in providing the requirement.
Prepare the future for more technological and job orientated courses, rather than choking in the white collar job.
The general public too need to be well informed about the education policy of India in general and Meghalaya in particular, keeping a watch, preventing the vested interests who turn such a religious profession into a business establishment. Only then can we really empower our youth with a sound education.
After the infamous incident in the state, the State government has adopted an act which was passed in Assembly known as the Meghalaya Private Universities (Regulation of Establishment and Maintenance of Standards) Act, 2012.
The Act further ensures that private universities maintain the standards of infrastructure, teaching, research, examination and extension of services, fee structure, safeguard the interest of the state as a whole and student community in particular by emphasizing on quality education and avoiding commercialization of higher education.
The Chancellors and the Vice-Chancellors of the Private Universities in Meghalaya should also constitute a Guild to assist the Visitor of the universities. This will also keep a check on dubious character opening private university which will only tarnish the good name of Meghalaya, known earlier as the education hub of North East.
Most importantly, the proposed Guild can also monitor the requirements of the market to produce employable youths as stressed by the Governor of Meghalaya. At present none of the syllabus is being reviewed to see if it caters to the demand of the market within Meghalaya, North East or the nation.
There are thousands of students equipped with the Degree from such Learning Centres and unregistered Universities that are unemployable; neither they can go for Research or contribute to nation building, unless they once again pursue other streams of studies, meaning reinvesting in studies once again. This should be stopped immediately.
Under the Act, a Regulatory Board was also constituted with former NEHU Registrar Lambha Roy as Chairman besides three other educationists as members – MPR Lyngdoh, T Marak and Caroline Marak. After their report, there is no other Regulatory Board.
It is time Education department constitutes a Task Force to reform the system, starting from syllabi to text books, extra curriculum and Craft classes to be stressed. It is time the knowledge of self employment and dignity of labour to be introduced from the High School level. This will only help the young mind to focus on their respective career and not just aim for white collar jobs which are now saturated.
The dignity of work and labour should be inculcated into the course, so that the young minds can explore one’s skills and adopt it as their career. The syllabi should be written by qualified individuals who can inculcate both technical and general education. Education should not only produce clerks but also equip the students with sufficient resources so the choices of careers are broadened.
Once the young minds understand the value of dignity of labour, they will not shy away to set up their own enterprise or to seek employment outside the government purview. This way the survival skills and competitive spirits can be taught which will only mould the students to be more ethical and morally upright; this will be the first step towards revamping the education system in the state with a positive trickle-down effect in society.
Education should also be able to make an individual thirst for self employment besides the usual preparation for a clerk, administrator and so on job, in this process technical knowhow and vocational training will only help young ones to have a working mind rather than a devil’s workshop.
Yes, it is a known fact that it is impossible to include crafts and others technical skills during the academic calendar; this will only force the parents and students to seek such knowledge during holidays and also while waiting for their results.
Schools and parents should encourage the children to take up short term courses in any form of training which in turn could be their main or supplementary career once the studies are completed. If this is successful, the responsibilities of the Education Department could be lessened as individual and private institutions will benefit from these skilled labour. This in turn will lessen the pressure of workforce applying for government post and will also force the government to rethink and introduce more survival skills related courses for the students, so as to be a better and skillful workforce for their own future and that of the nation.