Over 600 teachers and 17 government colleges are working hard for higher education in Nagaland and the state’s progress shows the immense potential for quality education
By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent
As the country along with the state of Nagaland embracing the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the pro vice-chancellor, Nagaland University, Meriema Campus, Kohima, GT Thong, on November 10 stated that higher education in the state is in transition and progressing forward.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the two days Triennial Conference cum national seminar organized by All Nagaland Government College Teachers’ Association (ANGCTA) which began a day earlier at Dimapur College Campus, Thong highlighted on the educational transition in Nagaland where the journey began with founding of the Fazl Ali college in Mokokchung, Nagaland, in 1959, with enrollment of 43 students and three teachers.
Today, as he reminisces, he said that more than 600 teachers and 17 government colleges are there in the state and the 64 year journey has immensely contributed to the growth of education in Nagaland with Kohima Science College, now an autonomous college, is rated among the best autonomous colleges in the northeast part of India which shows the immense potential the state of Nagaland has quality for quality education.
He hoped that the conclave or the triennial conference would ignite the spark that would take higher education in Nagaland even to greater heights despite encountering many “problems” plaguing the state, the government colleges have progressed well and produced towering personalities in diverse fields.
Thong said since India attained its Independence, there was strong focus on primary education where higher education was miserably neglected and the “myopic policies” then had caused drastic cuts in public expenditure and keeping in mind with it, many reforms in higher education has marked into a transition starting from welfare-statism to neoliberal market philosophy as he highlighted that this was largely due to indicators pointing to the immense contribution of the higher education to economic development, and reduction of “poverty and inequalities”.
He also stated that the Nagaland government has realized that only strengthening higher education can build a “knowledge-based society” so as to achieve a “revolution” in information technology for which he informed that the 11th 5 year Plan (2007-12) has planned for better educational policies leading to development of higher education to a great extend while explaining that the private sectors are now together playing a tremendous role in shaping higher education.
However, the pro-vice chancellor said “emphasize” has to be laid on monitoring the “private players” in order to ensure corruption is checked while also adding the “reforms” have now led to improvised governance and accreditation mechanisms.
Thong also said that with redesigning of the curriculum framework in NEP 2020, higher education is in “transition” with skill education which is now essential component as the later aims in developing and in producing employable youths to meet the ever increasing demand in the “Indian market”, therefore he was of the opinion that colleges should tie-up with skill training institutes.
Furthering his opinion, the vice-chancellor stated that the vast coverage of the NEP-2020 poses numerous challenges including poor infrastructures and funding in its implementation in the state while the government colleges in the state face shortages of “teachers and classrooms” though the government colleges in the state cater to the needy sections of the society by way of affordable education for which it was suggested that the Nagaland government must enhance the budget of the department which would help in recruiting more teachers and enhance classroom spaces in the existing colleges.
Thong also said that some issues in the NEP-2020 appears to be impractical as of now but resolvable and there is no need to be panicked or to be reluctant as according to him, the very concept of education itself is changing dramatically thus, the value based education with added expertise is at the very “core” of the NEP 2020.
He said that Data of all India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) showed a National Gross Enrollment Ration (GER) of 27.3 percent in 2020-21, which the NEP 2020 aimed to increase to 50 percent by the year 2035, however, Thong lamented the status of the state by stating that in Nagaland, it is measly 18.7 percent and now it is time to raise the figure.
GT Thong also said that about 10,000 students are admitted to the government colleges in Nagaland every year which accounts for only 1/3 of the total students enrollment in the state and to reach the target of the 50 percent GER, he encouraged to double it in the next five years while citing that the teachers should not be the cause of “downgrading” of the average national average while insisting on to impart quality education with a call that the government of Nagaland has to attract and retain highly qualified teachers to enhance the overall growth and standard of higher education in Nagaland.
According to Thong, it was learned that there are only 151 teachers with PhD degrees in the 17 government colleges in the state which he said that it is only 25 percent of about 600 teachers, for which he suggested the Nagaland government to encourage and ensure that all non-PhD faculties earn their doctorate degrees at the earliest.
He later said that the ANGCTA conference is aimed at scholarly discourse on “Higher Education in Transition” and on emphasizing on the success of the multifaceted NEP-2020 by addressing the inherent weakness in Nagaland’s higher education system.
Meanwhile, the ANGCTA has forwarded a representation to the vice-chancellor, Nagaland University, Lumami, on matters pertaining to implementation of “curriculum framework” under FYUGP, and another representation letter was handed over to the concern in order to reach the Minister, Higher Education, Nagaland, with content of various grievances the teachers face including age of superannuation, professorship, PhD increment, guest faculty provision, and others which was issued by the association’s president, A Moamongla Aier, and general secretary, Dr Yelhi Vero.