A School has three feet to withstand a fall- Administration, Teachers & Students alike are indispensable

MOST AWAITED results of High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) and Higher Secondary School Leaving Certificate (HSSLC) examinations, 2022 have been declared. HSLC is conducted by the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur (BOSEM), while the Council of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur (COHSEM) conducts the HSSLC.

The article is aimed at analysing the result trends in Churachandpur district, Manipur with a special focus on the HSLC results.

The overall pass percentage of matriculation this year of the district stands at 61% which is way behind by 10-15% of last five years. The previous best performing schools like St. Mary’s School and Don Bosco Higher Secondary School are found to be at their ebb this time. “Normally, St. Mary’s School used to bag 80-85% pass percentage in the past 5 years, but this time a meagre 64%”, the disgraceful John Jangminlal Guite lamented. Mr. Guite is teaching in St. Mary’s as a lecturer and currently pursuing a PhD in Manipur University. St. Mary’s is one of the most reputed Catholic schools in the district.

Ill-favouritism seems looming large in education sector of the State. Not only is St. Mary’s; other Christian Missionary-run schools of the district are being looked at as a soft target. Schools such as these are at the receiving end of vulnerabilities allegedly meted out by incumbent BJP-led Government on Christian educational institutions. The acclaimed district ivy league schools like Don Bosco Higher Secondary School has suffered a huge setback in its HSLC result, 2022. The school sent 241 students to write the matriculation exam. To a dismay, as many as 50 students failed in the board exam, never like the past years. Don Bosco Higher Secondary School could hardly manage to garner a pass percentage of 67%. The Principal of Don Bosco, Rev. Dr. Jacob Chapao is so upset with the result, citing political game with the kind of institutes. Mention may be made of the June 5 bomb blast on the campus of Little Flower School, Imphal. The school is a leading Christian missionary high school in the State Capital, Imphal.

Another conspiracy allegation from the Churachandpuris (locals of Churachandpur district) is political. None from the district featured in the top 25 list of all the streams, and this is questionable as put by the common people of the district. At the backdrop of Kukis being tagged as “foreigners” or “refugees”, and the resurfacing of the same in the general public domain at this time round of BOSEM/CHOSEM’s results, the Kuki communities are seemed to be targeted. Enough high ranking Government officials have Kukis in the echelon while they are being ostracised by other two neighbouring communities- Kangleipak Kanba Lup (KKL) and Federation of Haomee (FoH). KKL is a majority Meitei society that oversees the territorial integrity of the State and FoH is a blend of Meitei and Naga communities who have a common minimum programme, primarily meant for radicalisation of the masses against the Kukis of Manipur. Therefore, taking all these into considerations, some pessimists are of assumption that Kukis are being conspired in a way of damaging their two to three generations down the line, so that they will be reduced to servitude thereafter.

However, the above two conspiracy allegations being made by Catholic schools in particular and Churachandpuris in general could be counter-productive. All these should be debunked from the minds of those anti-social elements.

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No concrete evidence could corroborate the allegations. A counter-allegation put that if the schools are dissatisfied with their result why don’t they go to the Board for a re-evaluation or lodge a complaint. The fact that they could not muster the courage to approach the exam conducting body with their democratic rights shows that they are not confident enough of their (false) allegations. The exam results cannot be generalised on a zero-sum basis, meaning no favouritism rules the law of education.

Some other private schools have come out in flying colours with their results. For instance, Salt Brook school has a 100% pass percentage as in the past years. Other schools like Young Pillar’s College, Greenwood Academy, Rayburn School, etc., have a more or less same achievements like the preceding years. Pu Vanlallien Haokip, Principal of Salt Brook school argued that the overall bad performance in the matriculation exam in the district this time is primarily due to the indulgence practices of young students. He even revealed that there are a good number of schools and colleges in the district whose students are caught with intoxicant elements like brown sugar inside the classrooms. The Principal further pointed out that “poppy cultivation is the precursor of brown sugar manufacturing”. Worse, during the lockdown period of over two consecutive years from 2020, the students themselves were heavily engaged in the poppy plantation which finally culminates in themselves into a regular consumption of poppy and poppy products (brown sugar). The 2022 exam was the first rigorous exam ever after COOVID-19-induced lockdown. In the preceding year of 2021, the BOSEM carried out a mass promotion system to the matriculation candidates. The student-candidates this year expected that the Board would go again with the same system in the 2022 exam as well. With this unfounded hope, the students did not pay attention to their preparations for the exam. This way, Pu MV Haokip threw all the blames to the students who failed in the exam.

In contrast, Mr. Haopu Haokip, an educationist and Director of ULTIMATE Coaching-cum-Reading Room opined that the students’ failure this time round was due to lack of managerial skills of school administrations. A huge fraction of students is coming from other districts of the State. However, school administrations could not provide enough ratio of teachers to students. Lack of infrastructures like laboratory and classroom are partly responsible. In the same vein, Mr. Shokhomang Guite courageously blamed the Principal of the school where he is teaching. The Principal whom Mr. Guite does not want to name is lacking requisite quality managements and administrations of the school. Unfortunately, the Heritage School where Mr. Guite is teaching has a zero per cent success. “None of the 14 matric candidates the school sent to write the exam was seen successful”, lamented Mr. Guite. In this unfortunate school, both teaching and non-teaching staffs are found wanting in strength. Mr. Guite shared to me that he was once so upset to see “a class X girl student sitting in the school counter as a cashier while an admission process was at its peak” showing a dearth of non-teaching staffs in this particular school. Worse is that this admission was at a time while a post-course Study Camp was being conducted in the school. Thus, the school administration seemingly turns out to be a school authority wherein the Principal exploits any student in times of absence or shortage of non-teaching staffs in their place.

Demand for a salary hike has always been an intractable issue in the school administrations of private schools and colleges. A high school teacher earns no more than ten thousand rupees a month except for some well-to-do private schools and colleges that are having student strength of over 1500 like Salt Brook school, Rayburn School, to name few. The disproportionate pay to the teachers in the private schools is one of the manifestations of greed on the part of school administration. Mr. DJ Haokip, the Joint Secretary of Kuki Students’ Organisation (KSO), Churachandpur unravelled the nature of school and college establishments of the district. He pointed out that the school administrations have a frantic race allegedly for profit-making, compromising with the quality competition among schools and colleges. Schools and colleges are mushrooming up implicitly or explicitly with an agenda of business motive in the guise of providing learning or educational institutions.

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Teacher’s Absenteeism unleashes a wide chasm between teachers and students. Teacher Absenteeism is mainly prevalent in government schools and colleges. Boinu Doungel (name changed) who has passed out her 10+2 this year said that she got admitted in Churachandpur Government College and in a private coaching institute simultaneously. She chose the two paths because “teachers are not regular in the class as much as students’ attendance is lenient in the college”, said she.

Similarly, Tuibong Government High School suffers from shortage of teacher strength. But, whatever teachers the school has are strictly monitored. Mr. Lhunjamang Guite, Headmaster of Tuibong Govt. High School is so excited to share me the school’s performance in the recently declared HSLC results. The school has a commendable pass percentage of 55.22%. Sixty-seven students wrote the exam; 10 students secured first division while 27 students are second divisioners. To bridge the gap between teachers and students of the school, the Headmaster has a wish list of about seven more teachers, out of which 4 are likely to be inducted very soon. He was given a positive assurance by the local MLA, Pu Paolienlal Haokip, 59-Saikot A/C (ST). The Headmaster is so positive of a much better result in next year HSLC exam result if the MLA’s assurance is materialised.

In private schools and colleges, salary needs to be hiked and regularised. Miss Lamkhonei Chongloi (name changed) shared me her grievances related to pay of the school she is teaching in. She lives with her single elder brother; and their parents passed away a decade ago. She wishes if minimum of Rs. 2000/- (Two thousand only) could be increased from what she presently earns.

Students are the face of schools. In Churachandpur district, unfortunately, drug abuse is rampant among the student community. Poppy cultivation is not the only factor for a drug abuse. The COVID-19-induced lockdown exacerbated this issue all the more.

In the guise of online classrooms, students mostly indulged in phubbing, i.e., giving no attention to their studies Rather, they are busy with internet worlds on electronic gadgets like smartphones in their possession. They eventually become addicted to the internet esp. on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Awareness seminars on social media and internet have to be promoted among students. As we are now just back to the threshold of a new beginning, students have to be ingrained once again with these subtle requirements. Civil society organisations should spearhead in this regard. I am happy to know that KSO, CCpur are much aware of drug abuses among the students esp. in CCpur district.

Schools and college administrations should take a proactive role in this matter. They should not compromise students’ future at the altar of profit-making. Churachandpur District Private Schools and Colleges Association (CDPSCA) has to work in unison with district’s student bodies like KSO, SSPP, ZSP and the like to shape our students’ future in particular and society as a whole. The President of CDPSCA, Pu Vanlallien Haokip feels so sorry for the state of drug abuse the district has been witnessing among student community. The President even propagated for continuing of schools and colleges in the midst of the most recent new wave of COVID-19. He is hopeful that the student bodies should stand by the schools and colleges in having clearance from the district DC. The CDPSCA is right in its take in that the present generation has to learn on how to live life with the “century phenomenon called COVID-19”. Continuing and consistency of schooling would pave a way for dissuading young students from falling prey to what an adage says, “an idle mind is devil’s workshop”.

The Government of Manipur is claimed to be proactive in initiating education related entities. With its flagship programme, “School Fagathansi Mission”, both physical and manpower infrastructures shall be provided to Government schools to meet basic standards as per RTE and other relevant norms shall be provided. As a pilot project, the government in 2019 had chosen 60 government schools across the 16 districts of the State for the Mission.

Also read | Churachandpur (Lamka) town: The unplanned growth of urbanisation & its civic management systems

With the recently concluded workshop on System Transformation and Rejuvenation of Education Manipur (STAR), the landscape of the education sector of Churachandpur in particular and Manipur in general is likely to get transformed.

STAR was launched in 2021. More than 59 experts from the NEW GLOBAL team participated with trainees of about 700 teachers in the second phase of training under STAR. The Government also decided to provide 2500 tablets to government teachers and 500 mobile phones to school leaders. This would hopefully help withstand the newly started wave of COVID-19 in case lockdown is in place again.

Another feather in the cap is the implementation of National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 in Manipur. A seminar on NEP  2020 was organised on the 17th July, 2022 in different Government schools. A trainee as well as a Government Primary school teacher, Mr. Thangminlien Haokip observed that the new education system stresses on mother tongue as a medium of teaching and promotes indigenous systems of knowledge and learning. This would take us back to our Indian cultural ethos which we have almost lost. He also warned that we should not compromise with the western world competition that we have been through ages.

The setback that schools of Churachandpur district suffers is similarly felt by schools across districts of the State. Some of the bad performing schools in Churachandpur assure that they will strive harder again from scratch. They have begun their rigorous preparations for a better result next year. This is what I call “Healthy Competition” that is prevailing among private schools and colleges in the district. Also, as per School Fagathansi Mission, the Government has also provided to do better in their schools and colleges in terms of infrastructures (classrooms, toilets, furniture, pedagogy, etc.), teacher regularisation, etc. This competition among private and Government schools and colleges would give us a level playing field esp. to the BPL household parents, so that they can send their children to any school or colleges of their choice without much burden on financial matters.

Most importantly, the student bodies of the district should work in tandem with both private and Government schools and colleges. This would eventually be fruitful in the triangular performance of Administration, Teachers and Students of an institute.

Paojakhup Guite

Paojakhup Guite

The writer is pursuing an MA in Media Studies at the Central University of Hyderabad. Currently, he is undergoing a media internship with Imphal Review of Arts and Politics undertaken by Free Press School of Journalism under Pradip Phanjoubam. Views, research, historical narrative by the author are his.

He may be contacted at guitepaojakhup9@gmail.com

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