The Higher Secondary examition results in Assam this year have yet again underlined the fact that private educatiol institutions are stealing a march over government institutions, and this hiatus is growing every year. One look at the 2015 list of toppers in the Arts, Science and Commerce streams, and it hits home that nearly 80 per cent of these meritorious students are from private institutions. The Arts topper is from Genius Academy in Lakhimpur, the Science topper is from Ramanujam Junior College in gaon — both private institutions which are coming up in a big way. Of the 36 students in the first ten positions in the Arts stream, 29 are from private junior colleges. The pattern is even more noticeable in the Science stream with 15 of the 18 position holders from private institutions. As for the Commerce stream, leaving apart the toppers from Gauhati Commerce College and KC Das Commerce College, all other position holders studied at private institutions. The number of position holders in the merit list however does not tell the whole story. Overall, private educatiol institutions have registered sterling performances because their magements target 100 per cent pass out rates and go about their business competitively. These institutions also seem to be making their students more competitive and exam-savvy. Many students and guardians have appreciated the fact that with all sorts of teaching aids and reference books that are now available, teachers need to be very alert to equip their students with the keen edge and extra firepower to do well in examitions.
Contrast this with the performance of even a prestigious institution like Cotton College and the difference is straightaway apparent. There were just four toppers from Cotton College in the Arts and Science streams combined, that too not in the first four positions in either stream. This is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this once premier institution, with the higher secondary section becoming a sort of backwaters while the university born from it is yet to pick up steam. The picture is even more dismal in other leading government colleges and higher secondary schools spread across the State. Only a few years back, institutions like Tinsukia C2ollege, Kanoi College of Dibrugarh, Sivsagar College, JB College of Jorhat, KD College of Dergaon, DR College of Golaghat, Andaram Dhekial Phookan College of gaon, lbari College, BH College of Howli and BN College of Dhubri were respected for their academic traditions and environment for learning. Generations of students passed out from such colleges to bring laurels to their State later on and contribute to its advancement. But presently, the lustre of such institutions have dimmed. What could be the reason for such backsliding from their once halcyon days? It is not as if their educatiol infrastructure has disappeared overnight, or their campuses have fallen into ruin. Most of such government colleges have adequate number of qualified teachers with impressive academic backgrounds, drawing salaries on UGC scales. But all this vaunted manpower and weight of tradition of government colleges have failed to measure up to the yardstick of higher secondary results in the last few years. It simply won’t do for such colleges to argue that their focus is more upon training undergraduates.
It is well known that many private higher secondary schools and junior colleges are pulling along with rudimentary infrastructure, while their teachers slave for long hours with salaries that hardly do justice to their abilities and efforts. But their output has been nothing short of spectacular, best exemplified by Salt Brook Academy of Dibrugarh, Pragjyotika of Titabor, Ramanujan Academy of gaon, Andaram Barooah Academy of Pathsala and Ramanuj Gupta Junior College of Silchar. The reasons behind their success may be many and varied, but one strand is surely shared by all of them — the burning ambition and fighting will to see their students doing well. It is not as if only the promising students are separated out and trained intensively to get positions in the merit list. The entire batch is pushed to succeed, so that the school or junior college can boast of the overall numbers as well. Such a competitive drive may make sense commercially, because the enhanced academic reputation of the institution will surely draw in more bright students committed guardians in the next years. But pride and commitment are also qualities that may be expected from teachers in government schools and colleges who have no reason to complain as far as their salaries are concerned. Thanks to proactive roles by the UGC and the AC, government colleges are comparatively on much better footing nowadays in terms of infrastructure. It is high time all that parapherlia is used help students do well, who need proper care from the critical higher secondary level onwards when they have to choose subjects for building careers. Their teachers need to respond fast to the changes frequently sweeping cover the educatiol field.