The popular cliché says that one should practice what he preaches and just a month back Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma in a public meeting appealed to the Elected Representatives, Politicians and Bureaucrats to donate their respective one month’s salary for the betterment of schools in rural parts of the state which lack basic amenities. He did this himself as he announced that he had donated one and a half month’s salary of Rs 3 lakh for renovation of Shohphria Government Lower Primary School, Mawthadraishan block, West Khasi Hills.
Conrad felt that the whole concept of adopting a school is that even a small contribution can make a huge difference in making lives better for students in schools of rural India.
In the case of Meghalaya, particularly in the case of legislators, they will only do so under the MLA scheme, that also with their name enshrined on marble stones, which have been prohibited if it is under the schemes.
One of the rural school in the past had been awarded with the project of construction of latrines, which was executed as per the sanctioned amount but there was no fund for construction of septic-tank and water supply, the same construction has now turned into a store room for books and other stationery items.
Also one of the class rooms of the Shillong Cantonment Board School was turned into a smart classroom, while before the change the same classroom was allowed to be used by social organisations to teach the school drop - outs, rag pickers and the children from the slums. They have since been chased out after it was upgraded.
The point to ponder is that Chief Minister aims at giving a total face lift to the deprived rural school infrastructure, also knowing the funding situation of the state government and has tried to strike a right cord to provoke the consciousness of the individuals, who will not do anything without self interest or securing the vote bank.
Of course Conrad also cannot make it compulsory for all 60 MLA and 90 Member of District Councils to do so, hopefully his brother - James K Sangma and Agatha K Sangma will be the next to extend their respective generosity for the same cause to be followed by all National People Party MLA in support of their leader.
The contribution should come forward at this season as the monsoon is over and the winter holidays are not far off so that the renovation can be executed during the winter break and the students come back to schools with better infrastructure.
In the case of the school management, the renovation should be on the priority list, and not upgrade like the central scheme of toilet Construction which is not serviceable or the smart class room which chase out the deprived section of the society from the classroom.
The Greenboard movement in the past had only benefited the urban education institutions, while the rural schools are still roofless structures. This time Conrad is calling for help toward the rural schools and this can then be extend to rural colleges in order to avoid urban migration.
More importantly, the respective alumna of the school should also practice to take few classes during the academic year as this will not only raise the benchmark but also encourage the young minds. As is done in other countries even the achievers and celebrities should visit rural school to read with the students. All formal functions of the orientation programme should be diverted to rural educational institutions as another way to improve the standard of rural schools.
The state government should encourage more volunteers to improve the standard of teaching and the MLAs to improve infrastructure as this will surely give the education system in the rural sector a much needed boost.