AMID campaigns to make the education sector ‘disturbance-free zone’, reports of private educational institutions in Kangpokpi district deciding to remain shut for an undisclosed period over monetary demand served by armed organisations is nothing less than an anti-thesis to the efforts for ensuring that the future pillars of the society are not deprived of their fundamental rights. With most government schools unable to justify their existence in terms of producing quality students for the last many years, not many would question the role of private schools in grooming the children to make them responsible citizens. Considering their invaluable contributions towards helping the children get properly prepared for more challenging tasks ahead, Sadar Hills Private Schools’ Association conceding that it is left with no other option other than put the affiliated schools under lock and seal till a conducive atmosphere prevails will not only be a heartache for the parents but is likely to evoke strong reactions from various quarters against the concept of the armed groups concerned that even educational institutions will not be spared to fill their coffers. In view of SHIPS, in statement, disclosing that educational institutions in Kangpokpi district continue to receive monetary demands from underground elements in-spite of appeals and initiatives from well-wishers to make education disturbance-free zone, the decision to shut down the schools seems to be a desperate move to prod the conscience of the extortionists on whether the rights of future generation should be compromised in exchange of the ‘marvellous’ objective of some surreal armed groups.
The Kangpokpi case is not an isolated one, for there have been instances of derailing academic activities of some reputed private schools in other parts of the state subsequent to unlawful organisations slapping huge monetary demand. In addition to such devil-may-care attitude of the armed groups affecting the academic chores, it has been rare in Manipur for educational institutions to function smoothly for the whole calendar year. Owing to various pending as well as fresh issues, the state, valley districts in particular, continue to experience agitations which eventually affect the education sector. Public agitations are not the only impediment to the pursuit of one’s academic aspiration as Manipur for long has been synonymous with bandhs and strikes called by all and sundry even on issues that have no relevance to the masses. Compared to disruptions in private schools mainly centring on the issue of monetary demand, problems arising out of inadequate teachers and lack of infrastructure have been the bane for government educational institutions. Frequently derailment of normal academic activities in the state has also resulted in draining of the state exchequer for many families face the compulsion to educate their children in other states. Taking into account of the existing circumstances, the Kangpokpi episode merits introspection by those trying to get a share from financial gains made by the private schools. Though schools run by private parties entail higher fee ceiling compared to the government educational institutions, ignoring the former’s contribution in providing quality education will tantamount to denying the children their right to pursue studies for a brighter future.