I was among the many readers who were thoroughly enlightened and encouraged by the article on Private Schools by Dr. Andrew Ahoto, President of ANPSA (Dimapur) which appeared in the media on 11th March 2019. The article has brought to fore some of the most important issues that our society is right now reeling under, including the educational backwardness of government schools. Seeing the deftness and straightforwardness of the article, I was not very surprised that some people or organizations will have a critical analysis of the views shared by Dr. Ahoto. But sadly, Mr. Visato Koso, President of All Nagaland School Teachers Association (ANSTA) has given some very negative remarks on the said article through his rejoinder which was published in Nagaland Post on 15th March 2019 and in Eastern Mirror on 16th March 2019.
As a layman I would like to advise Mr. Visato on his rejoinder not to hurl wild and non-credible accusations against the writer, who has tried to project a very credible issue about non-performance of many government schools. Though Mr. Visato has read the article, he has perhaps skipped the part of the article where Dr. Ahoto has very categorically mentioned that the motive of writing the article was not to antagonize any individual, organization or the government. This, in itself, answers the question which Mr. Visato has raised about the intention of the article, which according to me was to open the eyes of citizens like us to a very pertinent issue.
Here, I would like to question Mr. Visato Koso about his organization that he presides. I, as a layman would understand by the nomenclature of his organization that it is an organization of both Government as well as Private School Teachers. If so, then why doesn’t he come out in support of Private School teachers also? Is his organisation only meant for serving the purpose of the government school teachers? If so, first of all I would request him to kindly rename his organization as All Nagaland Government School Teachers Association (ANGSTA) and not as ANSTA because the present nomenclature is highly erroneous and misleading as it would mean that ‘School Teachers’ include only those of government schools and not of private schools.
In his rejoinder Mr. Visato has mentioned that only the government can condemn, check or question the government employees. Perhaps he does not know that government employees are public servants and they have been appointed by the government to serve the interests of the general public who have every right, as tax-paying citizens, to openly come out in criticism of any anomalies that may be happening in any government department including the education department. Are government employees immune to criticism and public scrutiny?
Coming to the part of the rejoinder where Mr. Visato has mentioned that government schools are performing well and are not redundant, every individual in Nagaland knows very well as to what kind of quality education is provided in both Government as well as Private schools. Dr. Andrew Ahoto was just doing his duty as a responsible citizen of a democratic society to highlight it in a broader perspective. There may be a few government schools which may be performing well but that is hardly recognizable in the NBSE results that come out every year. How many government school students come out as toppers in the Board Exams? Therefore to say that government schools are doing well and that they are shaping and molding their students is utterly questionable. If the government schools had quality why do most people send their children to private schools? Does Mr. Visato himself send his children to government or private schools? I may be excused if I am wrong or if Mr. Visato is still unmarried. The answer is very simple and if I profess the answer here, I will be termed as a propagator of the private schools by critics like Mr. Visato. And therefore, the argument of government schools admitting 80% of socially and economically deprived students does not hold any grounds because the middle class and higher class citizens are never encouraged to send their children to government schools. Has anyone ever tried to ponder upon this very fact as to why most people prefer private schools over government schools despite maximum financial and many other such assistances given by the government to government schools? If government schools have the resources, and as Dr. Ahoto has rightly highlighted that they receive huge amounts of money, why don’t they try to give better facilities like the private schools? I am sure many parents will start having a positive opinion about government schools too like the government schools in States like Delhi are performing at par with most private schools in recent times. But sadly we know very well that truth is always bitter and the truth is government schools will only be able to outperform the private schools when corruption and nepotism are rooted out all together.
In one part of his rejoinder, Mr. Visato has also mentioned that the private schools only admit creamy layer students. Can he please elaborate what he means by the creamy layer? As far as I know it, the creamy layer, which he is trying to project here, are also people who are enjoying high positions as government employees only. Rather, the truth is that even in private schools, especially those run by missionaries and churches, there are many students who are being given free education. There are many such private schools that I can mention which cater to students irrespective of their financial positions or backgrounds. In fact there are many toppers from private schools who are from backward sections of the society. This shows that where there are dedicated teachers and good management the students from any background would fare well irrespective of the salary or perks that the teachers enjoy.
As regards to the comment that private schools have teachers with more qualifications and experience, if we read carefully, the statement says “It is observed that often private schools have…teachers”. Mr. Visato tried to make this an issue because he has misconstrued the statement itself. The use of the word OFTEN suggests that it is not a blanket statement but it suggests many instances of better qualifications and experience on the part of private school teachers. So there is no question of a proper fact or figure because it is based on speculation only to suggest something which is already happening.
Now coming to the part where Mr. Visato is highly critical of Dr. Ahoto mentioning about the anomalies in the State and District Teachers’ Awards. Well, we the general public and layman, including Dr. Ahoto, are not blind. Every year, the list of Teachers receiving State and District Teachers’ Awards are published in the newspapers. These lists are self evident and prove beyond doubt that majority of the awards go to teachers from government schools. Also it is utterly childish on the part of Mr. Visato to say that 100% awards should go to private school teachers. Whereas, unlike his childish comment, Dr. Ahoto had the magnanimity of expressing that there should be a conscious effort on the part of the Education Department to bring about equity in the selection process of teachers for the awards. I hope Mr. Visato knows the meaning of the word ‘equity’?
I, as an independent reader of the article as well as the rejoinder come to the conclusion therefore, that, the rejoinder which Mr. Visato has served against Dr. Ahoto’s well-timed article, sounds more like a baseless propaganda through which Mr. Visato is trying to take out a personal vendetta on Dr. Ahoto by maligning his public image. I therefore feel that to hurl false accusations and questioning the integrity of the eye-opening article is rather immature on the part of the critic. Let us not forget that today, the public is more informed and aware about the truth and therefore it is my ardent belief that ‘truth will always triumph’. So, as responsible members, let truth prevail in our society at all times.