Exclusive Interview with Soso Shaiza, Member of Advisory Committee, National Commission for Women (NCW) conducted by The Frontier Manipur’s Ukhrul Correspondent
Soso Shaiza comes from a family who believes in the ideology of humbleness and service for humanity. An educationist for over forty years, she remembers the names of the students and their parents. As she often says, “my interest is with the students and so, I know each of them by their names.” In an exclusive interview to TFM, Shaiza expressed dismay with the fact that there has been increasing number of dropouts from high schools and colleges. She points out that poverty is one of the most common causes of the phenomenon.
TFM: First of all, congratulations on being nominated as Member of Advisory Committee for NCW. Please share some of your experiences working as a member of NCW.
Soso Shaiza: Before joining National Commission for Women, I was not aware of such an important office with specific focus on women issues. At the outset, allow me to share about NCW, what is NCW all about. It is an apex National level organisation of India with the mandate of protecting and promoting the interests of women. It is the statutory body of the Government of India generally concerned with addressing the government on all policy matters affecting women. It was established in 1992 with the main objectives of protecting and promoting the interests of women in India. The roles of NCW are varied and includes:
1. Reviewing the constitutional and legal safeguards for women,
2. To recommend remedial legislative measures,
3. Facilitate redressal of grievances, and
4. Advise the government on all policy matters affecting women.
Working as a member of NCW, I have gained priceless experiences. We have separate cell for the eight northeast states and I was in-charge of these states along with Delhi and NCR, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh (Azamgarh, Mirzapur and Faizabad).
NCW also has other cells as well. I am so proud to be part of NCW family.
TFM: There is no doubt your contribution to education. You have molded thousands of children. What is your hope for education system in our community?
Soso Shaiza: I have been dealing with students since 1972 and it is now more than 45 years. There are three very important aspects to improve in our teaching and learning processes especially of our Tangkhul community.
1. We need more participation of parents in their children’s education. We also need more of parents’ investment in time and resources for their children’s education.
2. To impart quality education, our society needs more quality teachers. The quality of a teacher has the greatest impact on improving students’ learning outcomes. The need of the hour of our society is good quality teachers who can act as facilitators and can empower students as active learners. We need more innovative teachers who always brings new information and ideas to the classroom. A quality teacher who can love, respect and take care of the students and can inspire our youths to aim for higher purposes.
Our society needs to encourage our children to go for higher studies. Education helps a person become responsible and better citizens, get better jobs, know the difference between good and bad. I am very disheartened to see the increasing numbers of dropouts from high schools and colleges. Many youths are too eager to look for jobs after passing class 10, 11 or 12. The major reasons for increasing dropouts are:
i. Lack of encouragement, lack of inspiration or motivation to study more by the parents, teachers, neighbours or by the community.
ii. Poverty is one of the most common reasons for dropping out of schools and colleges. Some parents are also found very materialistic and these parents encourage their children to earn money rather than spending their money in their education. Thus, many of our uneducated or unskilled boys and girls stop their studies halfway and land in many unorganized sectors with no social security.
iii. Some dropout of schools and colleges due to poor academic performances and some due to exposure to alcohol, drugs and other anti-social activities and broken homes.
Therefore, to transform and improve our children in education, we need the involvement and support of all the stakeholders who are investing in the welfare and success of the society. It includes Church Leaders, Administrators, Teachers, Parents, Civil Societies, Social Workers, Politicians etc. to join hands in molding our future leaders. It is very important to instill Moral Values to our children from their early childhood to become Better Human Beings.
TFM: You are single handedly responsible for Tangkhul becoming a subject under CBSE. Most of us are not privy to what happened. How tedious was the process? How long did it take? The challenges you faced. Why that much of interest?
Soso Shaiza: I would like to give this credit to the Tangkhul Literature Society, Tangkhul intellectuals, bureaucrats, students’ organizations and well-wishers who believed in me and my mission. It was indeed through their encouragement and support that our dreams could be fulfilled.
My understanding is that any child who does not know their own mother tongue will not be able to understand all the problems found in the text books. A child who is good in her/his mother tongue will always excel in other languages like English, Hindi or even other subjects. It also develops a child’s personal, social and cultural identity. As mother tongue (Tangkhul dialect) is our identity, knowing our dialect gives our children a sense of belongingness and oneness. We must make our children proud of our mother tongue and to preserve it.
It took almost a year to include Tangkhul in the CBSE Curriculum as Modern Indian Language (MIL) up to Class XII standard. I will continue pursuing for upgradation up to the Degree level.
Before we approach for anything, our conscience should be very clear, crystal clear. What? Why? How? and Whom to approach? I believe if we go to the right direction for a good purpose, everything is possible.
TFM: Your work now, is especially focused on gender rights, gender empowerment. What challenges do you see in achieving gender empowerment?
Soso Shaiza: To become a progressive society, we need the participation of both the genders. It is high time that we all need to ponder on ‘bridging the gender inequality gap from grassroot level’. We also need to transform customary laws to include equal provisions for both men and women. The challenges are many and an uphill tasks but I am very positive that our people will realize and will surely transform patriarchal mind-sets into positive and inclusive mind-sets in the near future.
TFM: You have done so much for our community, you are an inspiration to so many of us. Now, we would like to know what inspires you.
i. My father-in-law (L) Yangmaso Shaiza, Ex-Chief Minister of Manipur inspired me to love mankind irrespective of caste, creed, tribe, rich or poor. My father-in-law loved humanity unconditionally. For him helping others gave him joy and peace of mind which I deeply admired.
ii. Critics strengthen me and make many corrections for me. I consider all criticisms as ‘constructive criticisms’. Criticisms helps me open my eyes wider and makes me stronger each time. These critics inspires me to take the right decisions.
iii. I owe my success in life to all the loved ones far and near, who always pray for me and my family. They are also my inspirations.
TFM: Thank you so much for sparing time to speak to TFM.