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Govt-COTA Standoff Calls For Special Committee

The end of education is character.” These are the words of the Shri Satya Saibaba which is reduced to writing in a big banner at the “Keishampat” junction that greets me every morning whenever 1 go for my official works. These words have indeed rightly said which cannot be denied or questioned. Another age old saying which 1 have held very close not only to my heart but also to my head is that “Teachers are the pathways to god for the students” but it is really unfortunate that the educational crises which has been going on in our State for the past few days or rather should I say the way it has been handled (let’s stop blaming the system) by the concerned authority with no sign of any negotiation being brought or not a single step taken to bring an amicable solution from both the State Government as well as agitating teachers is totally degrading the already tainted image of the education system of our State.

I have always held myself many times to express my opinions or my views with regard to this tussle going on between the State Government and the COTA for it is a very delicate and sensitive matter and the way it has been handled by the State Government is very confusing which is very difficult to be understood by a layman or even the educated class of our society, hence 1 have never wanted to comment on this sensitive issue but two very disturbing pictures which appeared in two different issues of this esteemed paper where in the first picture a school boy is seen throwing his books at the gate of our Hon’ble Governor and the second one which appeared in the next day issue wherein another boy is seen locking a class room of his institute single handedly with no one stopping him and the latest incident of burning some institutions and that too within the Imphal District, has forced me to raise some issues/opinions so that we the fellow readers in particular and the public in general can give any form of contribution to minimized such unfortunate incidents from taking place so that the sanctity of our education system is maintained.

But before I express my views in this topic let me take a few space of this esteemed newspaper to narrate a very interesting incident which happened to me when 1 was reading in class VIII in the Manipur Public School (MPS) before I headed for my higher studies at the Air Force School (TAFS), New Delhi. One fine day all of a sudden some persons came to our classroom and told us to hand over our Hindi books, 1 was apprehensive at first and wanted to hide my Hindi book but all my classmates started giving their respective books so I too had to give it and a person as soon as he got hold of the Hindi books threw them on the ground and started jumping (I cannot find any appropriate words to express his ridiculous act) on the books but 1 could not hold myself any longer and went to the person and asked him who he was and he told me that he was a teacher of the “Meitei Mayek.” Then 1 told him that when you yourself are a teacher and that too of a language why are you doing like this “and told him straightaway that when you yourself do not respect other people’s language how can you expect that others will respect our language and also that if we remain ignorant of Hindi language then with which language shall we interact when we go outside Manipur for any other purpose besides education, after that he stopped his ridiculous acts and told me to meet him in the break time and I met him and had some discussion and he started teaching our class and 1 did very well in the “Meitei Mayek” exams. We became very close and realized the true meaning of the “teacher-student relationship” and when his duty to teach the students was over he came to me and told me that although he was my teacher I had taught him a very valuable lesson and we parted our ways and he told me that he would now be heading for the hilly area’s schools. By the way “Oja” if you are reading this article of mine “Oja boo eina khuroomjari” and hope that you are doing your responsibilities at your best level.

Now, coming back to the issue at hand, there seems to be no sign of any sort of agreement between the Government and the COTA with regard to the demand of implementation of the sixth pay commission in toto, our hon’ble Chief Minister has also gone to the extent that he would resign if it will bring any solution and that he cannot ask the Center for any financial assistance for they would rather advise him to manage it from the State resources as lots of financial sanctions have already been given for the development works for our State and on the other hand the agitating teachers are asserting that there will be no financial burden and that there was an agreement between the two parties.

Now after all these, which party should we support? But irrespective of both the views the most unfortunate thing is that the innocent students (especially whose parents are not financially sound to afford private tuitions) are suffering for no fault of them but what is more pathetic is that some persons instead of guiding them are teaching them how agitation is to be done or what form of violence they should adopt to if their demands are not fulfilled. Have they forgotten that the duty of a teacher (by this I don’t mean all the teachers) is to teach good things and if they feel that they are being denied their rightful privileges then there are other forms of expressing their dissatisfaction, be it legally or any other socially accepted way, but to resort to the present form of agitation will bring no good to them or the society. It is said that the students are the pillars of our future but if the foundation itself is week than obviously the structure shall fall one day or the other. Hence, I would to request to the teachers to bear in mind that the board exams which will shape the future of these students are approaching. I would also like to appeal to the various student bodies of our State to clearly discuss these matters with the teachers so that the students do not get lost and instead bring an amicable solution for our education system is degrading day by day but one very important question I would like to put before some teachers who never go to their respective schools (especially in the hilly areas schools) and instead keep a substitute teachers by giving some money and engaging themselves in earning money from other various business which I think I don’t need to specify is that “Do you really think that you deserve the sixth pay commission?”. I am not putting the blame entirely on all the teachers, there are also very good teachers who rightly deserve what they are asking for after all the teachers are not asking for any form of compensation or other things or the Kohinoor diamond (pun intended) but they are asking for what they deserve (as agreed upon between the parties) for their rights guaranteed under the Constitution. I would also like to raise some important questions to the Government and they are—do you believe that by resigning or rather changing the portfolio from one Minister to another you will bring any solution and the most important of all is that “IS CONSTRUCTION WORKS IN OUR STATE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE EDUCATION OF THE STUDENTS?

The need of the hour is to form a special committee consisting of some eminent economists and other intellectuals so that both the parties are satisfied. Until and unless some sort of special committee is formed to analyze and try to solve the present situation then such agitation will never end and will keep on coming again and again and again from one or another department.

I would like to wind up my articles by giving a piece of advice to the students, that your duty is to study so that you can become officers and make your parents proud of you by reading/seeing your achievements in the newspaper and not by those pictures of your indulging in unwanted anti-social activities. I guarantee you that the form of happiness of being respected by the people after you become an officer is not comparable with any other form of happiness and if in case you fail to become an officer then you yourself will be the only person to regret and at that time those forms of agitation done by you in your school/college days wouldn’t be of any use.

Lets us not change the saying of Shri Satya Sai Baba from “The end of education is character” to “the end of character is education”

*The article is written by Elangbam John Singh

*The article was earlier published March 2, 2001.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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