Post Mortem

Nagaland & Higher Education: A view away from home

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/2/2019 12:40:22 PM IST

 Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. – Kofi Annan

Things in this State feel like we are stuck in an ever-unending continuous loop, never moving forward. Time and again, we have witnessed “cheap promises” being made and shoddier than was bargained for end products being delivered. This is possible solely because truth is already bargained & compromised. The success story behind this trading business is largely due to the presence of our own “hide and seek” leadership and a “me first” civil society. There are a lot of problems with our State which is not just limited to the muddy politics and corruption. We, the people, are equally to blame for allowing this cycle of callous governance. Viewing Nagaland through the lens of “basic public goods & opportunities”, we see our public health system in disarray, our local economy, public transport infrastructure, and law and order, all ranked below the national average. If we were a country, as many people advocate for, we would be a failed nation on the second day.  Besides the petty infighting among factions and tribes we also lack the robustness of governance and economy. 

But this op-ed piece is about one of these many problems, higher education in Nagaland. We, as a society, value education like every other aspiring population. However, under the current situation, we arrive at a critical juncture.On the one hand, a large percentage of students pursue higher studies away from Nagaland to all parts of the country and the world at a really high cost. On the other hand, likewise, we hardly have any semblance of a reputable university to which our youths at home could proudly claim being a student of.Naga students studying in Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Guwahati, Shillong, etc. means revenue and talent moving out of the State. While after all the education and qualification pursued in Nagaland or outside Nagaland, one returns not only to limited or no work options, but also a denial to compete and to prove one’s competency.It is another thing that there has been almost no job creation within the State, but even when there is, it is plagued by unethical practices and opaqueness.

Consider this fact for instance, there are 68 posts under the Higher Education Department for which candidates were to be recruited within 2018-2019, according to minutes of the State Cabinet meeting minute Sl. No. 5, office memorandum No. CAB 2/ 2013 held on the 4th of July 2018. These positions still remain unadvertised despite the appeals from the Nagaland NET Qualified Forum (NNQF). Additionally, the widely circulated notification No. HE/ESTT/2-6/207 which was approved by the Governor of Nagaland on the 9th of August 2018, had ignited some hope in the many employable and aspiring future educators of Nagaland. However, the follow-up advertisement through the NPSC on the 11th of September 2018 left many baffled because 68 positions had conveniently disappeared from its rolls.

An open letter issued by the NNQF in the local dailies had already pointed out this fact that the 68 posts had not been advertised. Despite our previous disappointment, we had hoped for forthcoming response or recourse, eager to see that additional advertisements would be published thereafter. But here we are, still appealing and demanding for the approved 68 posts which was supposed to be filled within 2018-2019, which was to be followed by an additional 42 posts within 2019-2020. 

One wonders why in Nagaland - students, scholars and eligible candidates have to plead with their government to fulfil their fundamental rights: for their right to equal opportunity, their right to employment through fair means, and the right of students to quality education. Denying such a right not only deprives Nagas from achieving quality higher education, which our government should be giving its own citizens, but it also depicts the vision of the kind of future our leaders have fated for us. We need to invest in human capital now if we are to see any signs of prosperity and progress in the future. Therefore, we, the concerned students and alumni of Nagaland from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, would like to reiterate this issue. And in writing this piece we hope that every right thinking leader, including law makers, bureaucrats, students alike share our immediate concern and desire which is best for Higher Education in Nagaland. 

To this end, we also appeal to all Nagas (the elders, youths, students, churches, civil societies) to urge and confront the government to restore Higher Education in Nagaland to a respectful, honorable, and an accountable institution. As it stands, many eligible candidates have been denied their chance as they age waiting for advertisements, while others have slipped in through the backdoor. A report of PSAN and NNQF, based on an RTI response, demanded the termination of 87 illegal appointments in the Higher Education department, out of the 101 appointments made since June 6, 2016 (dated October 10th, 11th, 15, 2018 in the local dailies); while a PIL was filed by PSAN and ACAUT against 705 backdoor appointments in the various departments of the state, out of which 59 were from the Higher and Technical Department (dated July 30, 2017 in the local dailies).

We would all continue to delude ourselves as long as we refuse to take a critical look into the mirrorand still expect that excellence finds its place in an education system that has been compromised by corruption. The fact of being caught up in a web of a corrupt system means that we are both victim and perpetrator. But if this is of our making then we can also unmake and rebuild. We have to start from somewhere if we want to get out of this trap.A failure on our part would be at best a self-mockery. Most of all, in negating the spirit of fair competition, the hard-earned virtues of honesty and integrity are buried deep inside the grave of injustice. Therefore, in our pursuit of fairness and transparency, we strongly voice out our demand through this write up. We hope the readers of this piece do the same and help us remind the Minister of Higher Education and the Higher Education Department that such practices will not stand, and in this particular case, ask the same to advertise the 68 assistant professor and librarian posts immediately. 

Cleanse Higher Education! Advertise the 68 posts!

 Concerned Nagaland students and alumni, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

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