Nagaland has come a long way since attaining statehood more than five decades ago. The leap it has made in the field of education is remarkable with literacy rate increasing from 10.52% in 1951 to 66.59 percent in 2001. According to 2011 census, the state’s literacy rate is 80.11 percent, higher than the national average of 74.04 percent. It is obvious that the state is continuing to grow in the field of education; at least the boom in the number of educational institutions in the state says so. According to a survey (2016-17) conducted by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Kohima, there are 2,070 government schools, 729 private schools and 63 colleges in the state. It is a good number for a small state with a population of nearly 20 lakh. The statistics is impressive and everything seems to be in place but there is enough evidence to suggest that something is amiss. The performance of the state in competitive examinations and entrance test to professional courses in the last few years does not correspond with its literacy rate. The fact that the state was ranked lowest in the recently declared National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) with a 34.52% pass percentage casts a gloom over the improvement made in this year’s HSLC and HSSLC examinations. The neighbouring state of Manipur recorded 63.17 pass percentage, while Arunachal Pradesh recorded 43.57 percent and Assam 44.23 percent. The result of such examinations may not necessarily reflect the quality of education of a state but it surely is a matter of concern. It is not just NEET; it has been a few years now since someone from the state last cracked UPSC examination.
What could be the reason for the poor performance of the state in competitive exams? Is it the education system? Is it the syllabus? Or have the students from the state become complacent? Questions can be many and reasons can be varied; and it won’t be easy to find an answer but concerted efforts should be made to overcome this drought. The state government, intellectuals, scholars, educationists and well-wishers should come together, deliberate, dissect and find out the possible reasons for the poor performance. Education is not all about getting jobs, but employment matters and can make a big difference to a society that is caught in the vicious circle of poverty. In fact, education can pull any society out of poverty. So, the state government should invest in education and ensure that schools and colleges impart quality education. And if complacency has crept in, it has to be ended immediately. It’s time students from the state to look for bigger avenues and dream beyond state government jobs, which is saturated. Sacrifices of the parents too will go to waste if the students do not dare to dream big. Hardwork pays.