Friday, July 19, 2024

Decline of quality education in Shillong


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Over-commercialization of the education sector cultivates a degenerating competitive environment, where organizations prioritize revenue-generating programs over educational value and profit over educational quality, often with the covert goal of eliminating less financially robust yet academically rigorous institutions. Many societies experience this phenomenon during transition to capitalism. Shillong city, once regarded as an educational hub of North-East India, has in recent years witnessed a concerning trend where a few so-called “elite colleges” prioritize their brand reputation over teaching quality, luring students with their name and fame, resulting in overcrowded classrooms with hundreds of students.
While enrolling an excessively large number of students, these colleges ignore the ethical guidelines for maintaining an optimum student–teacher ratio to ensure effective teaching and learning, disregarding the standards set by regulatory bodies like UGC, AICTE, and guidelines of the affiliating University. How can quality teaching and learning be ensured when there are over a hundred students seated in a classroom? The affiliating university, NEHU, has guidelines for its affiliated colleges to limit the intake of students per shift, per honours paper subject to a maximum of 50 students. However, these colleges often enrol over a thousand students per honours paper, possibly divided into four shifts a day. The University authorities seem overwhelmed by the brand reputation of the colleges, as they do not enforce these guidelines on these colleges.
There are a few colleges in the city that prioritize educational value, teaching-learning quality, optimal classroom environments by maintaining student-teacher ratio, students welfare, qualification of teachers as per UGC norms and their proficiency, and student-centric instruction. However, these colleges suffer because they lack brand reputation and require immense effort to attract a minimally adequate number of students. These colleges are causalities of adverse impact caused by the so-called elite colleges’ greedy pursuit of selling their brand names and maximising their business. No institutes of eminence, such as IITs, IIMs, premier colleges and universities engage in relentless efforts to generate maximum income as seen in these over-commercialized institutions, although these institutes are the highest funded ones from the Government of Meghalaya. One wonders as to what may be the ulterior motives of these institutions. Is it a policy of maximizing profit at the cost of existence of other genuine institutes? This raises concerns about whether this is a healthy trend in the education sector of Shillong city.
Students from the entire North East, as well as their parents, being naïve, often lack the experience and information necessary to judiciously choose institutions frequently becoming ensnared by the allure of brand names. This situation ultimately disadvantages students, as they may not receive the quality education needed to succeed in life.
In the face of such a malaise in the education sector, the role of the Department of Higher and Technical Education of Meghalaya becomes crucial for systematic intervention. Last but not least, NEHU should enforce its guidelines in letter and spirit, rather than solely exercising selective vigilance over colleges which have no brand names but maintain ethical standards in educational delivery.
Yours etc.,
Mary L Laloo
Via email

Dhar’s statements are laughable

Apropos of the news item published in your esteemed daily on June 13, ‘Dhar pins NPP poll debacle on govt’s ‘shortcomings,’ it’s simply laughable to note who is making this criticism, even as it shows how VPP’s recent success has shaken up the government from within.
Sniawbhalang Dhar was arrogant enough to call the VPP ‘just an empty vessel that makes a lot of noise’ before the parliamentary elections. Seems like one of the richest politicians of Meghalaya has just been humbled in his own home territory, where VPP swept all the constituencies in Jaintia Hills.
Even if governance is to be blamed, the NPP holds four out of the seven Assembly seats in Jaintia Hills — an area which as per the previous statements of Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, is under the party jurisdiction of Dy CM Dhar. To call out shortcomings of governance in this area essentially means implicating the self.
To take a larger look at governance issues under Dhar, traffic in the city keeps on growing worse as hundreds of crores are being spent on the Shillong Smart City project, but to what avail? Apparently now Khyndailad will get a new look at a huge and unimaginable cost of Rs 216 crore, as if to say that this is currently the most pressing issue of the capital city — a new look.
There is no sign of a convenient parking lot in the city after six years of NPP governance with even the then MTC properties in Khyndailad being constructed into shopping malls, causing a further future concern for vehicular traffic.
The Mawlai Marten issue, perhaps one of the most shameful issues for tourism of the city, goes under the carpet with statements like, “We are looking into the matter. It will be done. We have identified a solution.” And ever since there has been a hue and cry by the public regarding the extreme unhygienic conditions and foul smell of the landfill site, there has been absolutely no solution.
The Municipal workers work in the most unhygienic of conditions, with hardly any protective suits, masks, or gear, with most of them being contractual and having next to nil job or social security.
Dhar Construction Company, run by close family members of the Dy. CM, regularly featured in the news for being called out by civil society members for poor construction quality of government projects, even as conflict of interests are hardly discussed.
Byrnihat due to the presence of the industrial estate, came out to be one of the most polluted spaces in the country as per a recent study. Perhaps if one sets foot into the estate, it would understandably give the impression that ever since sanction, the estate has probably gone unchecked in terms of pollution, discharge and emissions.
Charity begins at home and Dhar ought to self-reflect while calling out the government’s shortcomings instead of wasting time in nitpicking the VPP.
Yours etc.,
Patrick Kurbah
Via email

VPP: Rise of a formidable political force in Meghalaya

The phenomenal rise of Voice of the People’s Party (VPP) in Meghalaya within a very short span of time since its journey from November, 2021, where the party had contested 18 seats in the 2023 Meghalaya State Assembly elections and won four seats. It also won the recent Lok Sabha election from the Shillong Parliamentary seat sending a clear message that a formidable political force was in the offing in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region where the voters believe that VPP is the alternate solution to fight against the problems of poverty, nepotism and corruption in our State. Although every political party emerges with promises of change and alternative ideologies, voters believe that the VPP will bring changes in critical areas of governance and also the voters feel that no other political parties so far in our state have fought elections fearlessly without money power. As such it instils faith and trust among the voters to lean towards VPP and to reinforce the fact that elections can be won without money. Indeed money should not be used to fool the voters which is a very good example to other political parties in our State.
Further, VPP not only fought elections without the use of money power as many voters believed but most importantly they always put God first in their journey which is another plus point for VPP as many voters believe that with this spirit the Party will go all the way from humble beginnings to greater success. Hence, I do hope that if their leaders continue to run their political party with this motive, the VPP will soon replace all the regional parties in our State. Last but not the least through this letter I would encourage all the political parties in our State to see the journey of VPP as a model so that our State will shine again and be freed from the bondage of poverty, illiteracy, favouritism and corruption.
Yours etc.,
Iahmi Khyriem


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