Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Letters to the Editor


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Making mathematics relevant & interesting for students

I welcome the announcement of the state government to consider making mathematics a compulsory subject at the SSLC examination. In 2010, MBOSE made English and Language subjects compulsory at the SSLC examination and the option that students would be declared as passed even if s/he clears only three of the remaining four subjects which include Mathematics, Science and Technology, Social Science and Health Education/Computer. Since then, there is a growing apprehension that this has resulted in students taking mathematics lightly leading to a deterioration in the learning and teaching of the subject at the school level.
Mathematics is a subject that builds mental discipline, logical reasoning, and analytical thinking. It is the foundation for the other STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and is needed in understanding even social science subjects. It builds the problem-solving ability which is one of the most required skills of the 21st century. Studies have shown that the lack of knowledge and appreciation of the prominence of mathematics in different careers is one of the reasons for students’ disinterest and lack of engagement with the subject. It is therefore imperative that school students in Meghalaya are informed about the usefulness and relevance of mathematics for a range of career options and in day-to-day life.
Studies have also shown that students’ fear and difficulty in mastering the subject is because of the way it is taught which is often dull, boring, and abstract and that lacks context. The challenge therefore is how to make mathematics interesting and practical to students to enhance learning outcomes. One such approach is called the Real Mathematics Education where the emphasis is to put mathematics into real life contexts and the use of flexible models to make sense of problems rather than relying on a given set of formulas.
Another problem that we face in Meghalaya is the huge rural- urban gap as far as the standard of education is concerned, particularly in teaching of subjects like mathematics (and Science and English) which is mainly because of lack of teacher preparation and support for teaching these subjects. While there has been a constant endeavour to revise the syllabi and adoption of standard textbooks, the benefit of such an exercise will be limited mostly to schools in urban areas if the standard of teaching in rural schools is not addressed.
Finally, let me come back to the decision of MBOSE in 2010 which was taken to “de-stress the examinee and to improve the SSLC examination results.” Both these objectives can still be met even if mathematics is made compulsory by examining this subject at two levels- basic and standard-which is an approach recommended by the National Curriculum Framework of 2005. However, other measures also need to be considered to ensure that our students take up and excel in the subject.
Yours etc.,
Dr. S. Umdor,
Dept. of Economics, NEHU



Problem of damaged road in Mawlai

I am writing to express my concern about the condition of the road in Mawlai which is deplorable with countless potholes which defeats the very purpose of what a road should be. Things get even worse during the rainy season when potholes are not visible due to the poor drainage system and the area becomes heavily accident prone. The residents are facing a lot of inconvenience due to the road condition .
I have seen the road deteriorate over time. The potholes are getting bigger and more numerous and the cracks are getting wider. They have not been repaired for quite some time now. The potholes on the road are a major cause of concern. This makes driving a very dangerous proposition.
We need safe roads for our drivers , our cyclist and our pedestrians. I therefore request you to kindly highlight these issues .
Yours etc.,
Haphisha Nongbri
Mawlai ( Mawtawar )




India’s ambivalent stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict

This refers to Munmun Majumdar’s article, “Lessons for India from Hamas’ Assault on Israel” (ST, October 31, 2023). India’s decision to abstain from a United Nations General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for a humanitarian pause in Israel’s bombing on the besieged Gaza Strip is a horrific departure from its long-standing foreign policy. India has always championed the cause of the oppressed be it in South Africa, Vietnam or in East Pakistan (Bangladesh). India always spoke against Israel’s occupation in Palestine and supported a two-state solution of the 1993 Oslo Accords.
India’s argument that the United Nations resolution lacked a clear condemnation of the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, does not hold water as the resolution condemned attacks on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The United Nations secretary-general Antón Guterres rightly said that Hamas attack did not take place in a vacuum. The truth is that 15 million Palestinians have been suffering the brutality of Israel’s oppression for decades. There were acts of terrorism against British civilians during the British Raj in India. Had they still ruled India, we should not have given the British a moral support to continue their Raj in India for some terrorist acts against them, should we?
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,



Tickets in PVR Cinemas

I wish to bring to the urgent notice of the management of PVR Cinemas and authorities in the Government about the “bad” practice in PVR Cinemas to compulsorily and forcefully take the mobile numbers of cinema-goers and forward the movie tickets electronically on mobile phones. Mobile numbers are personal details and should remain in the domain of Data Privacy. Mobile numbers are used as passwords. Many financial transactions take place using mobile numbers. For example, many mutual fund houses make mobile numbers as part of passwords for transactions and statements.
Customers are also giving away, unsuspectingly, mobile numbers to shopping establishments, etc., without knowing the adverse implications, and thus making it easier for fraudsters to do wrong and illegal transactions using the mobile numbers. Recently, there were media reports of Aadhar details of about 81.50 crore Indians being put in the Dark Web.
We urge the management of PVR Cinemas to issue physical tickets in their cinema halls, and request Government authorities to intervene in this matter, and take corrective measures in this regard.
Yours etc.,
D Bhutia,
Guwahati – 24



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