Collapse of a temple of learning

On its 50th year Meghalaya features more often in the ‘hall of shame’ than the proverbial ‘hall of fame.’ The latest is the collapse of a once reputed centre of learning for girls, Pine Mount School – started in 1881 to educate the children of British officials based in Shillong and the children of tea planters and managers based in Assam. Immediately after Independence the school was open to children of all citizens. Admissions were based on merit and the capacity of the school to accommodate students. However, this criterion was soon overshadowed by politics and admission was based largely on the political and bureaucratic clout of parents. Others simply could not make the cut despite their brilliance. Pine Mount School has been limping from lack of proper supervision and unplanned growth. Major and minor repairs have not been undertaken. But what irked the students, some of whom have spoken out on social media, are the unhygienic toilets which have created a phobia in them. So much so, some students even had urinary tract infection because they dare not enter the school toilet and restrained themselves from passing urine during school hours. Parents have begun speaking about these multiple maladies that afflict the school only now when things have gone completely out of control. hand.
The question arises as to why an educational institution that has produced gems that are now placed in important positions across the world is being allowed to fall by the wayside. This being one of the premier institutions owned by the Government, why was it allowed to go to seed? Why are funds not being allocated for maintenance? If funds were allocated where were they deployed? The issue of mal-governance has been festering since long. In 2019 when the ICSE students of that batch could not their questions papers on time and there was a near crisis, the Principal was not in the premises to resolve the matter. Even then, instead of taking action the Government ignored the matter with the expectation that it will blow over. Well, the Government must now be squarely blamed for not taking action before things could blow up on its face as they have now when parents, students and teachers are digging in their heels demanding a new Principal. The reason clearly is that the present Principal is an utter failure and has not been able to get her act together despite having made a mess of administration. The Government is faced with a dilemma as promotion to the rank of principal is seniority-based and it appears that senior teachers are unwilling to take on the onus of principalship. Such problems should be overcome by lateral entry through open advertisements. Students cannot suffer on account of Government apathy to amend rules and procedures.

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