Developed By: iNFOTYKE
Future of our children
Reference is made to the letter titled “A helpless parent’s appeal” (ST 28th Feb 2016) which so vividly illustrates the anguish, pain, torment and sense of helplessness that each and every citizen feels about the state of education in Meghalaya. In a nutshell it brings to the fore the pertinent question that is on every thinking person’s mind “In the name of Education, what are we doing to our children?” It’s obvious that there is need to re-evaluate the strategy adopted for our school going kids. At present the focus seems to be on the quantity of education being imparted rather than the quality. To burden the student’s mind rather than to liberate the thinking process seems to be end objective of our education policy.
Many conscientious teachers are not only concerned but thoroughly alarmed by what is going on. One of them told me that her school assessed her by her ability to finish a course rather than her ability to impart education. It says it all! Many parents believe that their children are getting educated when they come home loaded with home work as doing home work or going for tuition after class keeps the child out of mischief. The teacher knows best! A parent recently checked on the home work her child was doing only to find that he had been asked to copy an entire paragraph from his text book to his rough book. Sheer stupidity! Why is the system so keen on making education such an unpleasant task for the child?
If education is to enable the individual to read and write, then no doubt Meghalaya can boast of 80% literacy. If however the end objective of education is to empower the mind; to facilitate comprehension of the world around us and to rationalise the thinking process, then we have to admit we have failed and failed miserably. Rote learning, the ability to cram for exams and to memorise whole passages can no longer be taken as being educated. The process has only managed to produce robots and zombies. We see them walking the streets everyday and we end up asking “Where is the future of this Jaitbynriew?”.
Education in Meghalaya seems to suffer from two fundamental problems. The first a policy lapse wherein we have failed to identify the real objective of education. The thrust has always been on the ability to access Govt jobs. Now that such jobs have become saturated, the education system followed has become redundant. It demands reassessment! Secondly administrative control of the Education Department over its multiplying constituencies has broken down. The inspection unit of the department has become overloaded with administrative red tape that they don’t have time to enforce regulations, especially on schools. Once again quantity overtakes quality!
If this generation of parents are really serious about the welfare of their children; about the quality of education they are receiving and if teachers and schools are concerned over the system of education they are imparting, then the time for all stakeholders to get together has come. Time to hold seminars, panel discussions, debates and workshops; time to engage with the Govt (not confront) on this important aspect of our children’s future. The author and ICARE are willing to spearhead such a movement. The revolution however will depend on the involvement of stakeholders, the parents, the teachers, the Govt, the educational experts and everyone who is concerned. Citizens are requested to come up and express, in whichever way they can, their views and opinions on the subject.
(President, ICARE: Contact [email protected])
Can we retrieve our rivers?
The Shillong Times (Feb 22, 2016) came up with a coloured photograph with a caption depicting school children and other participants engaging in a cleaning drive of the Mynkjai river in West Jaintia Hills Districts. This was done at the initiative of the District Administration .This is to be appreciated . However, such initiatives have been taken up on many occasions in other rivers like the Wah Umkhrah and the Umshyrpi stream in Shillong. No doubt participatory annual cleaning drive of our rivers is a healthy public contribution to protect our rivers and streams but the need of the hour is to pre-empt further damage to the rivers by providing solutions that will have long lasting, favourable impacts on their quality. Otherwise we will forever face the ignominy of having to clear the ever growing filth and garbage in our rivers which in any case may become dead weights if not protected. .
Some time ago this newspaper reported of prohibitory orders being imposed by the same District Administration to prevent indiscriminate activities on the Myntdu river and its banks around Jowai The news item carried a headline portraying the Myntdu as a “dying” river and accompanied it with a photograph showing people washing vehicles in the river. Since such prohibitory orders were imposed in the past the news report would indicate that such efforts must have been breached and that too not always surreptitiously, possibly, because of poor monitoring or perhaps there is a staggered approach in applying the law. However, the difference in the prohibitory orders imposed this time is that a specific mobile number is circulated to the public to report to the District Administration for follow up action. It is now up to the people to cooperate .
While it is hoped that indiscriminate activities would be prevented if prohibitory orders can be consistently enforced, the encroachment of human settlements towards the river as visible upstream will pose a challenge in applying the law if alternative sites elsewhere are not available for private land owners to build their shelters. For this reason settlements at the banks of the Wah Umkhrah and its tributaries flourish since appropriate actions were not taken timely to avert such encroachments. The adverse result is there for us to see and for which we now lament. On the other hand , the farsightedness of our rulers a century ago to take over land from the people led to the establishment of the Laitkor Protected Forest and the adjoining forests near Shillong. This has paid dividends as till date these forest lands continue to be the source of unending water supply to localities below them and this may continue for perpetuity . These forest areas also exude a favourable microclimate and are a source of recreation. They also give Shillong a pleasant ambiance. Unfortunately such farsightedness seems to be lacking in our present generation of rulers as apparently there is no consideration to take over even twenty metres of land in vulnerable spots on both sides of important rivers and to bring such lands under protective cover for their long lasting care though the rivers are exploited for many purposes. Probably the inclination if any is fazed out by the perennial pretext of fund constraints while wasteful expenditures in a number of instances elsewhere down the years does not seems to matter.
For so long the Myntdu river is the lifeline of the people of Jowai as it is the source of drinking water, irrigation and recreation. Life for the people there centres around this river . It is terrifying therefore to visualize that one day the Myntdu river could become a “dead “ river .For this not to happen, it is up to the people of Jowai to raise the power of public reasoning in elevating the issues of protecting this river well before the 2018 election . By then and at the opportune time they can pose the hard questions and seek for answers to safeguard their long term interests.
K L Tariang,