Importance of education in electing a new government in 2023

By Louis Pyngrope

Unofficial discussions with different groups of people, many social organisations, etc. have made us understand that not even a single political party will secure absolute majority in the Assembly elections to be held in our state in 2023 and hence it is evident that another coalition government will be formed, and there is a possibility that we may fall into the same trap of getting this same government which has not performed in accordance with our expectations as we have experienced in the last five years. It has been repeatedly mentioned by contributors in the earlier letters to the editor of this newspaper and other vernacular papers as well that if education is not kept as the top priority in the affairs of our state there will be no development or upliftment and well-being of our citizens. So the manifestos of all political parties in our state needs to be scrutinized to see if education is accorded top priority and how that will be realised on the ground.
Making education a priority will definitely help in uplifting us in all spheres of human development. Citizens will be able to access their rights to health, education and social and political rights as well. All these points are known to our electorate before our state was branded as the lowest ranking state in educational attainments in our country. This time we should uplift education by electing a new, suitable government judging from its objectives and ideology as enshrined in the manifestos. It is very important for us to understand that the rise in unemployment rate are due mainly to the non- availability of the technical educational institutions to provide human resources and experts with the technical know-how to run the organisations which require scientific and technical skills of the employees for their operations. It is also due to the inability of our cabinet ministers to foresee the importance of such skill building in order to reduce the unemployment rate to a negligible value that we are lagging behind. Hence the next government has to make this aspect a priority.
Till date, setting up of the tourism industry which is expected to do well in Meghalaya since it has the potential to do so had been left virtually untouched with no government/private party coming forward to invest. Contributing to this is the inability of the elected representatives who have joined together to form the government without any professional ideas or knowledge of governance. We need to educate the masses that we need to elect a set of MLAs with a professional outlook as desired by the current circumstances. Enough of businessmen.
What we can do now is to convince the political parties to start afresh with all their thinking focussed on true sense of development by starting with the inclusion of education policy and reforms as the first priority of the next government, in their election manifestos with a promise that the action to be taken will be in accordance with what is committed in the manifestos. We have seen in the recent past the performance of all political parties ruling in the state. They may be national parties, regional parties, or ruling coalitions but they are not concerned about the upliftment of the state in terms of education and other developments. None of the governments in the past have ever valued whatever was committed in the manifestos.
It is time for us to understand how we have been short-changed by past governments and not elect the same candidates who didn’t perform as expected of them, in the next Assembly election. This will be a good lesson to our representatives so that in the near future they learn and improve their legislation skills if at all they want to continue their profession as the Members of Legislative Assembly. It is time for us to say enough is enough, and now, we are wiser and understand the mis-governance of the MDA government and we are determined to straighten whatever lies ahead of us.
It is essential for us to learn the general method of electing representatives and ruling political parties as adopted by the advanced civilisations in the world. This time we need to vote on the basis of the personality and integrity of the candidate and the ideology of the party supporting him/her as enshrined and committed in the manifestos of the respective political parties with emphasis on the inclusion of education on priority basis. A political party that is committed to this agenda only should be allowed to form the government in the near future. This is an opportunity for us to penalise our past representatives who have not delivered and elect a new representative to form a new government.
It is high time for us to understand that the existing representatives are useless and need to be uprooted from their constituencies if they dare to contest the legislative assembly elections, 2023. But because our MLAs know hpow short our memories are they fool us to elect the same persons again and again. As a result we have faced several consequences e.g. the interstate border issue where our elected MLAs and ministers have accepted the give and take policy even when they know that our state will be the loser as we have never encroached on even a very small portion of land belonging to other neighbouring states or country. Alas the MDA Government has signed the MOU with Assam recently in the the first phase of settlement of the six areas of disputes between the two states. The cabinet ministers of Assam understood fully well the intellectual inferiority of our ministers so they took advantage by laying down terms and conditions on the committees of both state governments which were accepted gracefully by our Chief Minister with no interest to protect the lands of the peoples of our state. This short memory of our people has contributed to the daring attitude of our ministers of this government to take decisions at random without thinking of future consequences, thereby making our people the scapegoats. But our people have become wiser now and I strongly believe they will rejig their memories and remember to vote wisely in the Assembly elections, 2023.
Whatever had happened in our state during the last 50+ years is totally our fault as we have not held the present and past government accountable for their poor governance and their lack of attention to education. Without education people cannot be informed and aware about their rights. Hence we also lag behind in social awareness, health, economics, agriculture, tourism, environment, mining policies and reforms, etc. which ultimately results in the backwardness in almost all spheres of human existence.
As of now, we are second from the bottom in terms of performance in education as per the recent publication of PGI (Performance Guiding Index), Government of India. With more publications of the Niti Aayog, we will see that we have gone down even more in all spheres of development. Now we need to wake up from our deep slumber! Recently, it was published that our state is again at the bottom with reference to cleanliness, which is highly unacceptable. But still there was little reaction from any of us. All of these arise from the non- inclusion of education on priority basis in the affairs of our state.
If all the actions of the government are unchecked, development will be stalled. Reforms need to be introduced in the school curricula right from the primary level. Healthy life styles need to be incorporated in the school curriculum right from primary and upper primary level. A cash-free election environment that is needs to be inculcated right from the school level and strict measures be implemented to prevent cash and other freebie distribution. Only then will be have legislators who will legislate laws that are good for our people. Awareness about the evils of drug addiction is an integral part of education since a good number of adolescents are addicted to drugs. Sex education is also essential for the students to acquire at the high school level. Also knowledge of law is essential at the high school level. If students are armed with adequate knowledge of the law, it will be difficult for anybody or any organisation to cheat or brainwash them. Undoubtedly, there is a need to revamp the whole education system in our state with provisions of reforms to be introduced so as to enable our citizens to face new challenges in their lives. Let there be a complete change in our perception of elections and put into action what is necessary to be done in making education the main factor contributing to the progress of the citizens of Meghalaya.
Further, with reference to the killings of innocent villagers of Mukroh, I believe that without strong action by the Government of Meghalaya against the forest guards and Assam Police who were responsible for the killings, more such incidents will occur in future. The partial acceptance of the official report of the judicial enquiry headed by Justice Vaiphei has led to serious doubts on the reliability of the MDA government.
To sum up, all of these arise from the fact that education is not a priority in Meghalaya.
(The writer is Retired Associate Professor, Lady Keane College, Shillong)

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