Money for marks pushes the standard of education to the dock

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The April 11, 2019 Lok Sabha General Elections will see Meghalaya too electing two members to the Parliament – from Tura and Shillong Parliamentary seats. Coincidentally, all the political parties contesting in both the seats have vowed to uplift the education system of the state, which lacks production or manufacturing industries, and total absence of Multinational Corporation (MNC). The state has no scope to talk about avenues for employment, whereas, the annual results declared by the State education Board keeps reminding that too little is done for the education in the rural sectors.

The Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) and some Graduation courses have just completed their examinations in the State, whereas the social media has exposed that some teachers in rural schools in West Garo Hills were demanding money from the students of Class 10 against the allotment of Internal Assessment marks; failing to pay, will not fetch them beyond the simple pass marks. Some of the teachers were alleged to have directly contacted the parents for the same.

Earlier, in the 7th Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, Saleng A. Sangma representing Gambegre in West Garo Hills Assembly Constituency informed the August House that there are village teacher who simply take the students near the river bank to collect stones for his own construction, and the marks for the students are allotted as per the amount of rocks collected for him!

The ground reality highlighted by Sangma about the pathetic status of rural schools where teacher do not take classes throughout the year is shocking. Such action of the said teacher not only shocked the members of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, but every individual in Meghalaya was put to shame for this particular action, yet there is no change in the faith of the students.

He had also stressed on the disparity between the urban and rural schools in terms of school’s building, teaching staff and facilities. Year after year the poor result in the Board Examination is yet to motivate any legislator to reform education system in the state. He made an emotional appeal by saying “my villagers still wallow for Education”, pinning hope against hopes to achieve better educational system in rural villages.

The Chinese folklore talks about the crow combining wisdom and labour by filling up stones in deep jar raising the water level to quench his thirst; here in the remote villages, the teacher ask the students to remove (read as empty) stones from the river bed, just the opposite of the folklore!

While during the 8th Session, many elected representatives including  Dikkanchi D. Shira- legislator from Mahendraganj, Deborah Marak – legislator from Williamnagar constituency have raised the issues in the August House on why the performances by the rural sector particularly from Garo Hills are so bad in every Annual Board Examination.

In the past, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly has exposed how government teachers outsource their post to substitute teachers on lower remuneration. The infamous tampering of marks allegedly by the Education Minister in teachers’ appointment, school toilet being used as store room, ghost schools listed under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), untrained teachers at all levels, as well as schools in rural areas where none of the students could clear the board examination, have grabbed the headlines over the year; yet no stern action was ever reported for all such flaws in the education system.

The mushrooming of private schools and colleges should be discouraged in the urban areas; most of such education institutions, especially the ones affiliated to the universities outside the state, are just doing business. Since the government and other concerned institutions have turned a blind eye to such education turned business institutions, the pressure groups and civil societies must step in to conduct random checking and close down the one found misleading the students and those not adhering to the norms laid down to open any educational institution.

The saying goes, one bad teacher will spoil 30 generation; one can imagine the impact created to our future with unauthorized educational institutions. Neither the Government authorities concerned nor any social organization is coming forward to streamline the education system. The Judiciary must take a sue motto case against the education department and bring to book the culprits who turned the temple of knowledge into a business hub.

Till date the state has remained unmoved by such action of the so – called teacher who allots marks according to the stones collected by the students from the river bed or now the teacher directly asking for money in return of good marks for Internal Assessment. Both the concerned teacher and the Headmaster should be booked for abusing the young mind and omission of duty. At the same time, random checking should be conducted in all the educational institutions in the state. This will be the first step to streamline the education system.

If only hoping the change through legislation, one may as well forget there will be any reform and get habituated to such unprofessional teaching system in the state, which has pushed the Temple of Knowledge to the dock.