Repurposing education

The article, “Baby steps towards education in the new normal,” by Patricia Mukhim (ST Sep 11, 2020) has covered many relevant issues that are significant today. The writer has rightly emphasised in the first paragraph that the wise elders (politicians, ministers, church authorities etc) need to involve the students, teachers, parents and Principals before taking appropriate decisions. Incidentally, in the Finland’s Education Board, politicians are left out.
It is so true that education is more than just the teaching or learning of subjects. It is about the heart of the child that is formed by the interaction with his friends in study, play, music, acting, assuming responsibility. Kids are missing their friends. This is such a vital cog in the wheel of life.
Again, in the third paragraph, the writer spoke of how schools need to come up with their own creative ways of helping children who are lost in certain subjects. Each school is different and school authorities need to be proactive and decisive in their stance. Parents play a key role and their consent is absolutely required if we have to bring them to school. The ONE CRITERION – a CHILD’s SAFETY and of course, TEACHERS safety as well. Parents’ consent is a must. As principal of a school, myself, I conducted a survey two months ago if parents would agree to send their children to school, should the Government ask all schools to reopen in the midst of this pandemic. I sent out the survey forms to children of Middle and Juniior School and about 1228 parents responded and only 52 parents said that they would send their children to school.
I particularly liked the paragraph about the “most vulnerable children, youth, and adults from poor homes and those technologically challenged” and how they are the most affected in this crisis. Thw writer also highlighted how many students are dropping out of school and going back to farming. This is reality amidst the pandemic and it will definitely have consequences in the years to come. We need some concrete plans to help these children and adolescents.
I particularly liked the last couple of paragraphs where the writer highlighted the need for us to look at education in a different light. We need to be flexible, change our curriculum to one of relevance, bring in the concept of blended learning and involve parents as well. Children are far quicker in adapting to new trends in education than us adults. One very, important topic that was touched upon is TEACHER TRAINING. This has always been one of my pet concerns! Our teachers need constant training. I am afraid our B.Ed Colleges are not effective in imparting effective teaching skills and this is because, most of the faculty in the B.Ed Colleges have not really been in a classroom. Most have come straight out of the Universities with their Masters’ Degree with no practical experience of being in the classroom where the actual dynamics are totally different!
I enjoyed reading the article because it tugged at my being and it is connected deeply with what I am involved in. The article has covered an array of issues that are so relevant today. I hope educators, principals, teachers and those involved in education would take time off to read this article.
Yours etc.,
Br. Solomon Morris,
St Edmund’s School

The conflicted Mawlai MLA

Since his inaugural win in 1998, the Mawlai MLA has switched parties as frequently as a Bollywood protagonist changes clothes in a dance sequence. His friable political principles manifested when, in a fit of infantile indignation after his loss in 2008, he deserted the nativist Mawlai for the more multicultural Pynthorumkhrah. Thereafter, he returned to Mawlai and electoral politics as an MDC sponsored by the KHNAM, but again switched parties despite swearing an oath of allegiance to the party before all and sundry. Since his reelection as MLA in 2018, he has hogged the headlines and screamers, particularly in the columns of the vernacular dailies. Seemingly some have reserved permanent space for him, so whatever prattle he utters, makes it to the front pages.
However, lately, the conflict within the Mawlai MLA has reached a different level altogether, and his jaw-dropping proclamations reek of unapologetic indulgence as the government’s unofficial cheerleader!
Take for instance his uninvited statement on the prevailing tension between the Pastors of the KJP Assembly and the Chief Minister. Perhaps the devout Protestant in him wanted to resolve the issue amicably. But as Chief Whip of the opposition, he should have lambasted the government and dug loopholes where there aren’t. Instead, he provided a stupendous justification for the government’s need to call off the meeting with the pastors.Whose side is this guy on?
Another instance, which would have made Rahul Gandhi churn with anguish, was the MLA’s public admiration for Narendra Modi in April this year. He heaped praises on Modi for his “dedication” and “working style” in attending to grievances of citizens. An effective opposition leader should nail Modi particularly for the swelling number of unemployed, fudging of data, a failed demonetisation, a saffronised media, and other failures, yet, the Opposition Chief Whip found a way to praise the PM instead!
Based on his antics, the only wall that seemingly separates the Mawlai MLA and the MDA government is the Anti-Defection Law. I wouldn’t be surprised if this political chameleon changes colour yet again. And by maintaining a consenting silence, the Congress party leadership in the state seems to be appreciating these latest perfidious activities of their Chief Whip. Does his ‘whip’ apply to all of them?
Yours etc.
Banshan Lyngdoh
Shillong 2

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