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EDITORIAL: No Test: Cheers Or Jeers?

It is a tough decision. We are at a loss of word, unable to decide whether to cheer or jeer, but the irony is not lost on us. So the State Government has decided that academic records upto the graduation level from Class X will be the yardstick to determine the selection of graduate teachers and the erstwhile practice of conducting competitive examinations to select the best will be done away with. In other words, it is not the test, but academic record that will determine the fate of all aspirants.

The irony that we were talking about refers to the entrance examinations conducted by a number of supposedly top notch schools, mainly Mission schools, for admission to the primary level, which violates the Right to Education Act. A case is already pending in the Court and four schools have been named as violating the rules and regulations enforced from 2009. Selection of Government school teachers after going through their academic record instead of subjecting them to a written test followed by a viva-voce, will definitely serve two practical purposes. One, it will definitely lessen the scope for corruption and number two the new approach means that the knowledge of the aspirants will not be decided within three hours of written test followed by about 10 or 20 minutes of personal interaction with a panel of board members.

This means that a graduate aspiring to work as a teacher will have to maintain a certain degree of academic proficiency which in a sense makes solid sense. The only hitch is the parameters to be adopted by the Government while grading the academic performance of the candidates. With the stress now on tapping human resources and the economy of a Nation largely depending on knowledge based education, there has also been a corresponding change in the education system of the country as well as in Manipur.

For instance, there was a time when getting a first division, which is scoring 60 pc in the Class X or Matric examination, was a big achievement and anyone scoring about 65 pc or so was guaranteed a place in the top ten. In fact, the situation was such that not more than 17 or 18 students could crack the 59 pc benchmark and be included in the exclusive club of first divisioners. The scenario has changed now and while it would be impractical to expect anyone from the era we have just referred to, to be among the aspirants (age bar, being the chief factor), there is no guarantee that the marking system in different State Boards follow the same pattern.

Without demeaning the quality of any of the aspirants, the fact stands that the cream or the brightest amongst the lot had either gone in for professional courses such as Medicine, Engineering and other highly specialized fields. With some universities now opening the door to pursue a five year LLB course after Class XII, the level of competency certainly goes down or sees a deep decline as one goes up the academic ladder. It is against this backdrop that the Government has in a way decided to go in for the long distance runner and not the hundred meters sprinters.

Those who have put their minds and soul into pursuing a career in academics do so with a single minded purpose and the crop of PhD holders in different subjects and research works being conducted in universities across the world and the country is an indicator that becoming a faculty member of a university is what is on their mind. Given this factual background, we wonder how the SPF Government will go about the business of grading the academic records of the candidates. How will it decide between two candidates, say one who did exceptionally well in the Class X and XII level but saw a dip in the graduation level or another who was just an under average student but progressed significantly in the graduation level.

Will the Government stick by the percentage recorded in all the examinations and then work out a final score or will it give more weightage to the Class XII level or graduation level. Other things being equal, how will the Government judge between two students, who went in for an honors course but secured 55 pc, while another candidate who went in for a BA Pass Course but secured 58 pc ? It also stands true that the decision of the Government has come more as a reaction to an unsavory incident rather than the desire to search for better alternatives while selecting candidates. Remember the fiasco that the State witnessed over the publication or non-publication of the list of primary teachers selected by the Education Department (S) last year?

It is a matter of being wiser after the worst has come to pass. While the new method may help narrow down the scope for corruption, we also have to keep in mind the fact that this alone will not do. Transparency is what is needed, but the question is whether the Chief Minister and his men are ready to go the whole way and throw the selection process open for one and all to see or whether the quota system of the Ministers and MLAs will continue. If Manipur is looking for meaningful education to equip the students with the skills needed in the job market and which will generate income, then fair selection of the teachers who will mould these young minds should be the first step.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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