Education is the most vital process that contributes to all round development of a society. It not only brings about the best in human personality, but can also be the medium of peace and progress of a nation. Education is a critical factor in improving the quality of life of the people, in eradicating poverty and accelerating economic growth. It is the lifeline of any modern day civilization or country. “Without education, we cannot see beyond ourselves and our narrow surroundings to the reality of global interdependence.
Without education, we cannot realize how peoples of other races and religions share the same dreams, the same hopes. Without education, we cannot recognize the university of human aims and aspirations. ” – Kofi Annan. Mizoram is among those states where education was first initiated and popularized by the British. Missionaries were responsible for the growth and institutionalization of education in the state. The first educational institution in Mizoram was initiated by the missionaries in the Aizawl region in 1897. The educational scenario in Mizoram today as viewed from the angle of literacy is very promising – at 91.
58% and stands 2nd among the states in India, next only to Kerala, according to the 2011 Census. It is really not a figure we can much be proud of as education should be viewed from the angle of its contribution in improving the quality of life of the people and thereby eradicating poverty and accelerating economic growth, in which Mizoram is lagging behind. The main issue is that the current educational system is not able to produce employable graduates who can compete with graduates from other parts of the country.
This results in the increase in unemployed graduates every year. STATE EDUCATION REFORMS COMMISSION-MIZORAM Educational system of any society needs regular changes and reforms in the light of the emerging issues, concerns and challenges. Recently, Mizoram has set up a State Education Reforms Commission with a view to promote qualitative change and reforms in the field of education. The report of the commission is an important guide towards restructuring the education system of Mizoram.
The report suggests that in tune with the provisions and spirit of ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009’, the school education in the state may be readjusted. The national programmes like the SSA need to be implemented in letter and spirit. The report puts particular emphasis on pre-school education and recommends that institutions like SCERT may step in to help the state in this respect with documentation and research. The report emphasizes on the merits and applicability of open and distance learning system in supplementing the conventional and classroom based formal education and also in providing avenues for vocational education in the state.
It may be pointed out here that the north-east region in general and Mizoram in particular could be developed as India’s hub for quality handicrafts and forest-based products. The report deals with some of the basic concerns of curriculum. In this connection, extra emphasis may have to be given on science and mathematics education with the application of innovative methods, kits and practices. The report also points out that with a view to achieve all-round development of the students, school curricula should have definite components of health and physical education, art education and work education.
The report makes a particular reference to the provisions under Section 29 of the Right to Education Act 2009 and suggests there should not be any public examination for the students from Class I to VIII but with a continuous process of monitoring and comprehensive evaluation. A system of grading replaces the marking system. This system is currently being introduced in most private and govt. schools today with great enthusiasm from the teachers, parents and the students. The report suggests that there is an urgent need to boost enrolment of students in the colleges.
As such, it recommended that so of the unviable colleges with poor enrolment records may be merged with other better functioning adjacent colleges. It also suggested that about 20% of the annual budget of higher education may be earmarked for infrastructural and instructional development in the colleges. The issues concerns and challenges of teacher education are also discussed in the report. It suggests that the existing may be strengthened with the help of additional inputs like infrastructural facilities and human resources.
The report suggests upward mobility of teachers. It supports the idea of lifting of ban on new recruitments and avoidance of contractual appointment of teachers as far as practicable. The report suggests that the government should encourage professional development of school and college teachers by providing facilities like study leave, research grants, etc. SSA Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is a comprehensive and integrated flagship programme of Government of India to attain Universal Elementary Education (UEE), covering the entire country in a mission mode.
SSA has been launched in 2001-2002 in partnership with the State Governments and Local Self Governments. The programme aims to provide useful and relevant, elementary education to all children in the 6 – 14 age group by 2010. It is an initiative to universalize and improve quality of education through decentralized and context specific planning and a process based, time bound implementation strategy. The programme lays emphasis on bridging all gender and social category gaps at elementary education level with time bound objectives.
Its intention is clear from the name itself – Sarva meaning all, Shiksha meaning education, and Abhiyan meaning campaign. SSA adopts, “the bottom-up” process of planning, wherein the felt needs of the served communities and educational needs of learners are well taken care of and the plan fits into the broad framework of SSA. In view of the fact that the desired improvement and sustenance of the improved efficiency level cannot be achieved without the active involvement of the community in the schooling system, SSA has emphasized the involvement of local people and stakeholders in planning.
This also ensures reflection of local specificity, which is essential for achieving the goals of the programme. For a brief understanding of the activities of the SSA mission, it is important to highlight some of its objectives – * The programme seeks to open new schools in those habitations which do not have schooling facilities and strengthen existing school infrastructure through provision of additional class rooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grants.
* Existing schools with inadequate teacher strength are provided with additional teachers, while the capacity of existing teachers is being strengthened by extensive training, grants for developing teaching-learning materials and strengthening of the academic support structure at a cluster, block and district level. * SSA seeks to provide quality elementary education including life skills. SSA has a special focus on girl’s education and children with special needs. SSA also seeks to provide computer education to bridge the digital divide. ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY.
The role of the civil society is very important for the realization of universal elementary education. For the success of the SSA Mission, the common people, voluntary organizations, NGOs, etc. has an important role to play. With reference to the Aizawl District, there are the voluntary organizations like the Y. M. A. and M. H. I. P. which had signed an agreement with the SSA for working together for the realization of the goals and objectives of the SSA Mission especially in the areas like identification of Out Of School Children, Children with Special Needs, promotion of Girls Education, and more.
The SSA and these voluntary organizations work together in creating awareness and also to change the mindsets of the people against the Children with Special Needs. Also, the Mizoram Presbyterian Church works constructively with the SSA in the promotion of its goals. It is through these organizations that the common people play an important role in the SSA Mission. CONCLUSION Achievements made by Mizoram in the field of elementary education, as a result of intervention of SSA, are very much appreciable. Enrollment and retention rate are appreciably high.
Dropout rate and the number of out of school children are also very low as compared to other states of the country. A good number of new school buildings have come up and existing school buildings have improved a lot. Schools have become much more attractive places for children with the installation of outdoor play equipments such as colorful slides, see saw and swings. Children seem to enjoy the Mid Day Meal provided to them on daily basis and poor and working parents are greatly relieved from their burden.
Schools with inadequate number of teachers have been equipped with additional teachers. We can, therefore, conclude that quantitative expansion and improvement have been achieved to an appreciable extent in Mizoram due to the intervention of SSA. However, Mizoram has only reached the stage where quantitative expansion and improvement has been achieved. A time has come when Mizoram has to give due attention and priority to qualitative improvement.
Improved infrastructural facilities, high rate of enrolment retention, low rate of drop out and out of school children are not the ends but the means to realize the goals of qualitative elementary education. The state government and the SSA authorities should not be complacent with the achievement of only quantitative expansion of elementary education; rather they should take care of aspects which can provide quality education to children in the primary and upper primary schools.
Courtney from Study Moose
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