If you pile the east up with rotting infrastructure, does that still count as ‘Act East’ Policy?
The Eastern Nagaland College Students’ Union (ENCSU) is a body that monitors the welfare and development of the college students’ (higher education) community in the eastern districts of Nagaland State, namely, Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire and Longleng. In March this year, it launched an initiative to tour all the government colleges in the eastern districts to learn of their educational and infrastructural status.
Their report revealed, along with photographic evidence, that the four colleges in the eastern region– Sao Chang College, Tuensang; Yingli College, Longleng; Wangkhao College, Mon; and Zisaji Presidency College, Kiphire—are all in various stages of break down.
Two colleges were operating without a principal (later placed but found absent from duty). One college was conducting classes in a hut and though it had a new college building (built without water or electricity connection), there was no bus to ply students to it! Another college building was found on the brink of collapse.
Earlier this week, the ENCSU reiterated some of the findings—whole departments are being run by just one teacher in some of the colleges. Moreover, teaching staff is not regular in their attendance at the colleges. Syllabus is, thus, not always completed and examinations become a futile exercise.
The students’ welfare body has now demanded that either the government remedy the situation or face protests next semester onwards.
The Government of Nagaland has responded with its usual line of blaming the situation on bureaucratic and financial hurdles. Agitated, the ENCSU stated, “Eastern Nagaland is not a waste bin for the Government of Nagaland.”
The ENCSU has done a commendable job by highlighting the condition of higher education in the eastern areas thereby underlining how Kohima’s discrimination of the region continues. Many Nagaland State Government employees, whether teachers, doctors or otherwise, consider a job in the eastern districts as “punishment posting” and inevitably it is the eastern districts that face the brunt of any bureaucratic and financial hurdle that the government undergoes. This is the discrimination that eastern Nagaland’s civil society organizations have been hinting at.
The recently declared HSLC (Class X) and HSSLC (Class XII) results further exemplify the point. Government schools from the eastern districts showed abysmal results for much the same reasons—lack of teachers and infrastructure. Healthcare meets a similar fate. 21 villages of Chessore area in Tuensang district reported in the end of April how its only primary healthcare facility is being run from the doctors’ quarters and medical staff remains unavailable. Given the condition of roads, people are further cut off from living a long, healthy and productive life.
As we inch closer towards the 54th year of Nagaland being a State, we are yet to see if these are deliberate attempts to undermine the people or is it a mega failure of the Act East Policy?
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