Education in Doldrums

The inevitable had to happen and the worst fear about the plight of our school education system has once again become exposed after the latest disclosure by the Chairman of the Town Education Committee (TEC) of Kiusam area under Kiphire district. Confusion is rife among the public of Kiusam Area with the fate of its Government Middle School hanging in uncertainty. A copy of a representation submitted to the Director of School Education, Kohima by the Chairman made available to this newspaper states that there was not a single graduate teacher or even a matriculate teacher in station. The teachers are said to have been transferred along with the School Headmaster and according to sources no other teachers have replaced them. Nothing can be more deplorable than such gross negligence on the part of the authorities. It has to be remembered that denial of education is denial of the right to life itself. The School Education Department must immediately rectify the situation at the earliest so that no child at Kiusam village is denied this right as enjoyed by their more fortunate peers in places like Dimapur and Kohima. The State government must move quickly by issuing the appointment order of teachers to be posted for the school. 

In all this, what is equally condemnable is the manner in which the TEC is supposedly being made to run from pillar to post with the Director of School Education, the concerned MLA and DIS attributing different reasons for the current situation. It is likewise a manifestation of the poor ethics underlying governance in our State when politicians and bureaucrats take it as their power to take decisions but without being accountable in the process. For instance, when approached, the MLA is said to have sent the TEC Chairman to the DIS who then attributed it to be a mistake on the part of the Director of School Education. It goes without saying that part of the solution requires that external interference in teachers’ recruitment and transfers, including that by the politicians, should be stopped. The random transfer orders issued, sometimes unauthorized must be seriously looked into by the higher authorities. Likewise, if the government is at all serious about universalization of education and bringing quality education in the State, then it needs to undertake a comprehensive review of the teacher-school ratio as made out in the NSF report recently and correct this defect. 

In fact, a few days back an editorial “Teacher Who?” was written in this column on the occasion of Teachers Day and in the backdrop of evidence clearly pointing to teachers absconding from classrooms particularly in the less privileged schools of Nagaland. For poor children especially in government run schools, the teacher often becomes a mere metaphor unseen and unheard of. And not surprisingly, the people of Kiusam area seem to be experiencing this metaphor. Teachers’ absenteeism in Nagaland is a chronic problem clearly evident from recurring cases of schools having to shut down. If our politicians are under the illusion that children are not vote banks and therefore their interest can be thrown into the wind, then they are not only undermining the future well being of our society but also committing a serious crime by playing with the lives of innocent school children.