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Streamlining the education system

Editor,

A recent news report in local dailies of protests by parents whose children are studying in Step by Step School, over the sudden increase of school fees and conducting an examination for admission, which later was mutually settled is a cause of concern. This  is not a one-off incident. It happens in many schools but it is out off the media view because most parents would not like to create a  ruckus for the sake of their children’s future. Having said that, the State Government has to take into consideration the need to mainstream and regulate the school fees especially in private schools and prohibit them from subjecting kids seeking admission into nursery up to class 3 or 4 which to admission tests which goes against the spirit of the Constitution that harps on the ‘Right to Equality’ and Right to Education. Both are intrinsically linked. There are talented and good students from the rural areas who long for admission into good schools but most of the time they cannot gain access to these schools because of the high capitation fees put up by many schools irrespective whether they are government run, private or missionary institutions. Majority of such schools are more interested in business rather than imparting quality education and also allowing an equal playing field for others. Therefore, through this column I hope that these relevant issues are taken up by the Education Minister, Lakmen Rymbui and his Cabinet colleagues in right earnest in the interests of the marginalized and the society at large.

Yours etc,…

Dominic S.Wankhar

Shillong-3

Whither State Planning Board

Editor,

 It is rather disappointing when one reads the news report  about the State Planning Board(SPB) asking officials to go lenient on rules and  to “go easy” on sawmills and stone crushers (ST  30th August 2018).  The reasons for  restricting the  operations of sawmills  in the state  are  well known and if such instructions  of the SPB  are carried out then it  will have a calamitous  effect on the environment  in the long run and  Environmentalists  especially  should be  far-sighted enough to envisage this.

 Loss  of livelihoods  appears to be the  main reason behind    such an instruction just as the NGT ban on coal mining is also attributed  for such a loss. Those at the lowest rung of  involvement in any activity  would certainly feel the brunt  more  by any sudden  loss of livelihood, though with time  most must have adjusted to alternative means of livelihood. The lack of   concrete study to assess the quantitative loss of livelihoods  in relation  to  the steady  shift  towards  alternative means  gives  no  authentic  insight into the actual  ground reality and therefore any  conclusions  arrived  at  on the continued  effect  of livelihood loss could have been  made  out of  arbitrary assessments. Conversely while  the bans  or restrictions  could be attributed to livelihood losses. the loss of established livelihoods   when such bans were not imposed  especially when  coal mining ran freely,  could be significant  enough to  if determined .The SPB would do well  to   make a recommendation to the State Government to  make  a comprehensive study  on this  for  arriving  at a realistic and rational  conclusion  rather than relying on  one sided  vague  appraisals .

        On  matters relating to livelihoods,  particularly  of  the chunk of the population in the state  that is concentrated in the rural areas, the SPB perhaps  need to bring out   a comprehensive plan  so  that   developmental efforts  or  individual  initiatives  balance well with  proper natural resource management  such  that both livelihoods and these natural resources are sustained for perpetuity.  Undoubtedly agriculture is still the primary means of livelihood of the majority of the rural community and  may   continue to be so . The sudden emphasis   of the Government to shift  towards organic farming in the state  seems to have however, thrown the farmers out of gear and  how it  impacts  farmer is still vague and incomprehensible. Likewise it is not known  if  the many  irrigation projects taken up so far have   promoted  double or triple cropping in a year such that  the farmer’s income can increase and  to ensure   food security  in  the state.  Is the subsistence form of agriculture  like jhummimg is still prevalent  or   has it  been  improved enough  to make it sustainable? Will setting up the Directorate of Food Processing over and above the existing Directorate of Horticulture improve livelihoods  through horticultural crop production? Will the various Missions the government propagates to improve livelihoods of the rural community yield the desired results judging from what is experienced  or could there be rethinking? These are some of  the many  issues which the SPB  could perhaps look into in as far as the  livelihoods of the rural community is concerned. The livelihood issues of the urban community is another assignment altogether.

 Interestingly, the SPB has jumped in on the Wah Umkhrah issue as some others had done. The problems related to this issue are already  well known since long. What is expected more from the SPB, however,  is for it to recommend  plans and strategies  based on ground realities to  protect other more important  rivers in the state since  the situation is alarming as is already well known.

Ultimately, the SPB by its very name is supposed to  be the highest planning body in the state and therefore it  has  an obligatory role to make  appropriate recommendations  on wide ranging matters  to the Government to follow up. It might be an intricate, painstaking  effort  and time consuming  to bring out such  recommendations  but then  that is  perhaps what is expected for any planning body to do.

Yours etc.,  

K L Tariang,

Via email

 

Crinoline Pool affairs 

Editor,

The Crinoline Swimming Pool seems to be out of depth (pun not intended). The pool has been intentionally kept empty for the last seven weeks for reasons best known to the Chief Engineer of the Sports Department. There appears to be a tussle between him and the Meghalaya Swimming Association, and this has been going on for years. Genuine swimmers are the casualty. One fails to understand why the pool is kept empty. The swimmers should be allowed to swim and the problems between the two parties should be sorted out in their own time. This is a classic case of cutting the nose to spite the face.

I request the Chief Minister and the Sports Minister to take note of this issue and resolve it on an urgent basis, for the swimming season will remain for another month or so. Sadly this ego tussle shows no signs of getting resolved anytime soon.

Yours etc.,

Lambok Dkhar,

Via email

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