Are we prepared for CUET?
The introduction of the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) has raised a much-needed debate in the country as regard its practicality and impact on the students. It is evident that the government is considering the fact that there are too many graduates and post-graduates in the country today who are still jobless for the fact that job saturation has set in. In other words, only the deserving can go ahead in their quest for qualifications. This educational policy adopted by the government has its pros and cons. In itself it is a method to urge students to work harder and perform better in their secondary and higher secondary education. However, as of today, students coming from rural settings especially in our tribal areas, are at a great disadvantage if this policy is implemented. Let me list down a few difficulties associated with this policy.
First of all, we have not achieved a “uniform quality education” in most parts of our country particularly in Northeast India. There is a huge gap of educational quality between urban and rural schools. In most of our rural schools, especially government schools, education is in shambles. There are very few qualified teachers, no proper facilities not even sufficient classrooms. The so called “smart classroom” which is available to urban schools, is unthinkable for rural schools. In many government schools, there is insufficient number of teachers to properly manage the schools or provide good education. Students themselves in rural areas, are deprived of many privileges their urban counterparts enjoy. I have seen rural students who have to walk many kilometers to and fro day in and day out. There are no school buses available to them while their counterparts in the urban settings have every means of transport. With so many “schools of excellence” present in the cities, urban students have easy access to quality education. Take for example the state of Meghalaya where all good schools and colleges are located only in Shillong and Tura. When we go out of these places into the interior of the state, we see the miserable condition of school education. The consequence of all these disparities, is the scandalous gap of quality between urban and rural education. This is the reason why rural students who come from families that are a little better off, continue to migrate to the cities in order to pursue quality education. What about the majority of poor students who remain in their villages?
Secondly, our rural students who are generally weak in English in comparison to urban students, will be at a greater disadvantage in such national entrance tests since they would have to do it in English. Many times they may even find it difficult to comprehend the questions and much less to answer them. The fact that our mother tongues (Khasi and Garo languages) have not entered the Eight Schedule, makes our students ineligible to write in their own mother tongues. Rural students of other states whose languages have been recognized would be in a better position as they could write in their own mother tongues, be it Bodo, Assamese, Manipuri, Hindi or Bengali etc. Is this not a double injustice to our rural youth? Many of our Khasi and Garo students would be left out of colleges and universities and probably our colleges and universities would be filled with non-tribal students who would definitely perform better in CUET. Do the leaders of our state desire to see such development?
Considering all these inequalities in educational privileges, I feel that CUET could turn into a Common University Elimination Test. What we will witness will be the large number of rural tribal students who would have to terminate their education at Class XII. What will happen to the future of these students? It is like closing the door to their dreams and aspirations. I fear that this situation would lead to disorientation of these youth who would probably end up in anti-social activities. As it is now, CUET would spell the doom of our tribal youth. Some opine that this would shake off the self- complacency of our tribal youth and it would be good for them. But my argument is that the discrepancies that exist in our educational system between the rural and the urban settings, are reason enough not to rush for the implementation of CUET.
Unless and until we are able to provide equal opportunities for quality education to all our rural tribal youth, CUET becomes an unjust educational policy that is meant to victimize the poor and the unprivileged. I hope the government will not be immune to the plight of our rural youth and reconsider the implementation of such policies.
Barnes Mawrie sdb,
State held to ransom by politicians
We are thankful to Dr Eladbor Laloo for his timely article on the Umiam reservior (ST May 12, 2022) and his warning not to dabble with it. Our politicians are in the habit of opening their mouths and ending up in gaffes. Indeed, a little learning is a very dangerous thing. Many of our failed projects would have been otherwise had professionals been allowed to exercise their minds and execute them instead of bending all the rules to suit those holding political power. How many files have been pushed in the corridor of powers suppressing or setting aside professional/ethical advice? The amount of money and the cut or commission is paramount to any other issue be it the environment or the health of the people. Consider how smoothly the cement company files, the coke factory files, the illegal mining files etc., have passed through without a whimper. Mr Toki Blah mentioned the fertilizer/pesticide file waiting to be passed in spite of scientific evidence that they are detrimental to the health of the people and the environment. Multi-national Corporations(MNCs) and big moneyed people play important roles in impoverishing the people by this invisible slow death. Wake up people!