We have been made to understand that the focus of education in Assam is on students rather than on teachers. On Friday, the last day of the budget session of the Assam Legislative Assembly, State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was candid about the way he saw education, especially school education. He said his whole education focus is students-centric, not teachers-centric. This translates to him being more concerned with the cause of students – quality education, employment and secure future – than with issues that teachers keep raising, especially relating to appointment and transfer as well as enhanced pay package. He also rued that during the whole discussion on education that day, most of the MLAs talked about the grievances of teachers, provincialization issues etc and no one talked about how to improve the quality of education and other issues related to students. This, he said, made him “sad”. Then he went more categorical: “My stand is clear. Education has to be students-centric and they must get quality education.”
Education-conscious people would not disagree. When we talk of education, we must talk about a process by virtue of which a child begins to marvel at things about him, his curiosity to gather knowledge about a bewildering world and make a meaning out of it being constantly inspired by the process where the teacher, as his supreme guru in the journey of intellectual life, is his greatest inspiration. How often this inspiration leads to anything meaningful in the lives of students in government-run schools, less said the better; after all, it is Sarma himself who in the Assembly has admitted the existence of over 2,700 single-teacher primary schools in the State. But that there must be an ideal that education must strive to achieve, cannot be dismissed as chimera. It is here that the process of education assumes profundity. The ture and goal of this process has a profound bearing on the lives of students – their future, their evolution into responsible citizens. The whole focus must therefore be on students.
But the task is not that easy. We have a situation, and as Sarma has himself admitted, where teachers hit the streets with various demands, where they converge to Dispur from far-flung areas to ventilate their grumble, and while doing so they do not spare any thought for the helpless students awaiting them in their classrooms for some meaningful education to happen to them. Classes go empty. This is not to say teachers do not have the right to protest. They do have. But not at the cost of students, of education that holds the key for them to evolve into empowered citizens. Needless to say, there do exist other modes of meaningful and effective protest too that do not lead to empty classrooms. How about, for instance, teachers hitting the streets on a holiday – not just to protest against governmental apathy if any but also to drive home the point that they are on a protest mode without affecting classroom teaching and thus the cause of their students? But perhaps this is too much to expect in a society given very poorly to work culture.
Nevertheless, the hope for a course correction cannot be allowed to die. Here the minister concerned has his task well cut out. Pay cut twice per day or show-cause notice for the days when teachers are absent without taking casual or earned leave just because they think they have the right to hit the streets to make themselves eminently audible to Dispur while their students suffer for no fault of theirs, could be an idea to work on. Or for the days they are absent so, let as many Sundays too be working days – at least for teachers’ discussion sessions and pending issues in case students do not turn up. Some radical course correction and things will begin to settle down. We are for students.
Human Sperm in Space
The human spirit to tread on uncharted territories and explore the mystery of life and existence, and to generate new knowledge domains to crack the riddles that an undefined and unknown Master Creator seems to have scripted, has now SA send human sperm to space for its behaviour in a zero-gravity environment. The mission technically began on April 1 when it sent human and bull sperm on board a Falcon 9 rocket to the Intertiol Space Station. The astrouts abroad ISS are going to thaw and activate the samples chemically for their fusion with an egg. The tracked sperm movements in a zero-gravity environment will be sent back to earth for further research. Since this flight project is the first to apply alytical methods to assess the fertility of human and bovine sperm cells in spaceflight, it could be called groundbreaking. After all, is not there also an imagition called space tourism and colonization of Mars, apart from Moon? A leaf out of science fiction though, the fact of the matter is that man stepping on Moon before Team Neil Armstrong did it in 1969 was science fiction too. Science is a dogged foray into the impossible to make it possible. Who, for instance, ever thought before Einstein that gravitation would not be a Newtonian force but rather a manifestation of the curved pattern of space and time?
SA’s latest grit is about a thorough study of the ways long-duration spaceflights can influence human reproduction even as other researches have shown to a certain extent that lack of gravity facilitates sperm mobility. Are we in for insights as to how people can breed as they undertake journeys on space holidays to escape the monotony of life on earth? Anything is possible in science. Its hope is awesomely impressive.