Education needs strict monitoring
Reports that several schools in the State particularly in Garo Hills are without teachers for several years have been left without teachers raises many difficult questions on the Education Department’s ability to oversee these schools. In fact the State Government should have commissioned a quick study on the exact number of schools without teachers and why that was not detected over all the years. Every school functions under the larger supervision of the Managing Committees (MCs). These MCs are supposed to be the supervisory bodies keeping track of teacher absenteeism and the overall functioning of the schools so that all lacunae are immediately addressed. However, since the Secretary of the Managing Committee are the school principals it would be absurd for them to report on the anomalies in their own schools more so if they have been remiss in the discharge of their duties. This is one area that needs correction. Someone other than the principal and a member of the Managing Committee with an independent mind should be appointed as the Secretary and so that principals can also be monitored.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has stated that additional allocation of Rs 300 crore would be made available to complete the schools at the virtual launch of the Meghalaya School Upgradation Programme for upgrading and improving 50 lower primary and upper primary schools under Phase I of the project. These announcements are linked to elections and the expected outcomes from the series of promises. Unfortunately, those schools that benefit from such promises take it as a personal favour by the Government of the day without realising that implementation of those promises is a tortuous route. Not much is being said on school drop-out in Meghalaya although the numbers are rising with many kids aged between 10-12 across the Khasi-Jaintia Hills working as shepherd boys. Part of the reason why children drop out of school is because of teacher absenteeism and a lack of imagination and creativity in teaching. The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data finds the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya to have the worst drop-out rates for boys at 9.8%, 9 % and 8.7 % respectively. The children spoken to say that domestic work, economic condition and lack of interest were the topmost causes for discontinuing education. About 30.2% of the girls gave domestic work as the reason for discontinuing education and about 36.90% of boys left studies because they had to support their families. These are real issues and it is time to redesign education in such a manner that the rural students are given the kind of education they need to manage in their environment. A single framework for students across the State does not work and this is evident from the lack of interest shown by students at the primary and upper primary levels.