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By Ibankyntiew Mawrie | Shillong News, March 31, 2018: 

Education is considered to be the ultimate weapon to streamline social behaviours besides eradicating poverty and the government both at the centre and the state have been pumping a lot of funds into this crucial sector to ensure that the country touches a satisfactory if not good percentage of literacy.

But, who are we kidding? Education for some is just a mean to ‘get rich quick’ with total disregard to the future of the students. And the CBSE paper leak is a perfect example of this blatant act of pure selfishness.

Now, while the country is fuming with anger over the CBSE paper leak, Meghalaya on the other hand, that is also partially affected by this academic lapse, is also faced with another major educational problem and I am not talking about lack of proper schools or qualified teachers but my concern here is about the academic curriculum followed by almost 90 percent of the schools in the state.

Of late, the Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBOSE) has been making headlines often for all the wrong reasons. To elaborate on this, the outdated syllabus is something which every parent and student are grumbling about. How are they supposed to compete with students from outside the state with an outdated and rusty weapon?

The outdated syllabus is just one chunk of the problem. Now, though MBOSE had revised the textbooks last year for lower primary, upper primary and secondary schools, the nightmare that we now face is no longer the outdated information but the out-of-this-realm knowledge, something that only MBOSE officials and its authors are aware of.

Presently, the students are faced with another major hiccup — error-filled revised textbooks which only reflects the lackadaisical behaviour of MBOSE.

There is a word called ‘proof-reading’ and ‘copy-editing’ in the English dictionary but I guess the officials concerned are too lazy to go through the ready-made contents and textbooks and passed it on without verifying the facts.

Let me remind you of a list of errors in the revised MBOSE textbooks — In the Class IX Social Science textbook, the writer (whoever that may be) has definitely sabotaged not only the English language but also names of places and towns and to top it all, he/she has distorted historical facts.

To refer to Garo legendary freedom fighter Pa Togan Sangma as a Jaintia is something I cannot fathom because Sangma itself is evident that he is a Garo. Either, the writer was in a hurry to complete the text or he was simply unaware of the facts.

And while many personalities found place in a section called ‘Prominent personalities of Meghalaya’ — the writer seems to have missed out the most important figure in the state and that is Captain Williamson A Sangma – the first Chief Minister of Meghalaya.

This book is riddled with errors — from spelling mistakes to historical distortion. “The Khasi and Pnars are very good in carving. They have their own style of making gold and silver from the tree” — What is this? If that’s the case, unemployment problem wouldn’t have existed in the first place. We would all be happily making gold from trees and trading them and be famously known as a ‘Gold-producing centre’ in the world.

Statements and misleading information like these are a direct slap on the face of MBOSE. Knowledge is power, they say but if our students embrace such kind of knowledge, I dread to imagine the future of our state and the proud identity of our community.

Here is another glaring example — Health and physical education for Class X textbook — One particular diagram in this book shows some tools for First Aid and to you’d be amazed to learn that in this book, a First Aid kit includes tools like a spade, a car jack, a flashlight and some other car tools.

There is another Khasi wordbook for class 2 (Mathematics- Jingkhein in Khasi) which, I must regretfully say, is disheartening. Not only have the author messed up with the spelling, he/she also included another letter in the Khasi Alphabet. Thomas Jones — the supposed ‘Father’ of Khasi Alphabet must be turning in his grave right now.

In this wordbook, the author used ‘Fi‘ instead of ‘Phi‘ (for non-khasi speaking people — Phi means you). The author used Fi in a sentence — ‘Lada fi thied uwei u khulom bad bad kawei ka kot’ — now normally, it should have been written as ‘Lada phi thied uwei u khulom bad kawei ka kot’ (If you buy one pen and one copy) for the simple reason that — there is no F in the Khasi written script.

Well, should we blame it on the shortcut method of typing messages or simply on the ignorance of the writer? I don’t know.

For sure, MBOSE was pulled up and explanation was sought and what was assured was that — the mistakes will be rectified and the matter is being reviewed minutely. But, the damage is done; you don’t get a second chance to make the first impression and MBOSE has clearly made an immature, if not first, expression.

No wonder why the government has decided to do away with MBOSE for the class XI and XII (science and commerce stream) and adopt CBSE syllabus and NCERT textbooks. Because, you can never trust what MBOSE will do next.

I don’t understand why the government is entertaining such acts. If it is really concerned about the future of the students and the state, then pumping funds into the department is not enough — ensuring that benefits (in any form) percolates down to the grass root level is something it should work on.

The authority should take punitive actions against erring officials and individuals for playing with the future of the students. There is a saying — Spare the rod, spoil the child. But here, we can aptly refer to this adage as ‘Spare the present, spoil the future’.

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(The writer can be reached at mawrie.iban@gmail.com or iban@thenortheasttoday.com)

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