Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Adolescent Years - Judy Dimhoikim, Asst. Prof Education, Tetso College

Whoever said growing up is easy might just be wrong. Adolescence - a stage in every students’ life, has its fair share of highs and lows. Just like adults, adolescents have to deal with problems too big to handle or too hard to cope with. What are the causes? How can we deal with the problems of adolescent life? This week, an educator writes to us about the deeper problems of adolescence and also provides solutions on how best we can handle them.

The Adolescent Years 

A friend of mine recently lost her teenage brother due to suicide. Looking back, I only wonder how it could have been avoided if only his parents had put in some extra effort to understand their young son. Or if there were some way he could have tried to view life from a different perspective.
A teenager engaged in gambling, caught up in drugs , crimes , anti-social behaviour, robbery and the most terrible of all - killing oneself, can be avoided only if adolescents are provided proper guidance with an extra amount of love, affection and care. It is sad to hear about parents losing their young sons and daughters because of one reason or the other.
The child undergoing this stage witnesses a great deal of change in almost every aspect of life. The first and most important change visible in the adolescent stage is the physical change. The adolescent experiences severe problems, which are directly related to physical development. The males worry about being too thin or too fat, or having skin blemishes, while the females are disturbed about being too tall, too fat, facial hair and other defects. Some of them are left depressed, disturbed, and frustrated as they do not have the answers to all these changes.

It is no wonder that adolescence is a period of extreme emotional development. At times adolescents show extreme pessimism. Another time they show great optimism. All kinds of emotions like anxiety, fear, love, anger etc. are extreme for them.

This is why in this day and age, sex education should begin at home before the child goes to school. It should be continued during the elementary school years and should receive greater attention of both, the home and the school during the adolescent period. By referring to “sex education”, I do not mean that the course be labelled as such, but that it can be given a non- emotional title such as a course in personal relations, life adjustment or “family living”, phrases that are less intimidating to the conscious sensitivities of adolescents today.

It is important to get down to the root of the problem. Something that all of us, including adolescents must understand is that the basic cause of delinquency is ‘frustration of some kind’. The need for security, independence, recognition, affection is frequently thwarted to such an extent that anti-social behaviour is employed in an effort to relieve the pent- up tensions. Some of the conditions of life which cause frustrations leading to delinquency are poverty, low intelligence, conflicts within the family, a broken home, lack of affection from parents etc. If these basic needs of adolescents are met then delinquent acts would not be committed. In the same breath, if adolescents make an effort to direct their frustrations towards a more positive direction by focussing on aims and goals in their life, this can help them to channelize their energy towards constructiveness.

In order to avoid delinquency, schools and home also have a vital role to play. Firstly, the adolescent should be given enough freedom to express their responsibility. Secondly, as the adolescent is craving for recognition, their opinion should be valued and they should be given a patient hearing. Teachers as well as parents should stop treating the adolescent as children and give them due recognition. Youths are more in need of models than critics. Thirdly, the adolescent should be given proper love by their parents, teachers and their peer group. Fourthly, lack of guidance creates aimlessness and restlessness among the adolescents, so proper guidance should be organised from both inside and outside the school. As far as possible, individual guidance should be provided. Fifthly, an adolescent should be helped to develop interesting educational hobbies. Lastly an adolescent suffers from emotional hunger and so parents, teachers and friends should continuously praise and encourage them.

Teachers and parents should be made well aware about the self-conscious nature of the adolescents. Even if nobody observes them they think that they are being observed by everyone. One measure to deal with this is that they should never be too overtly exposed, especially negatively. We must devote a certain amount of attention towards the needs and problems of the adolescents. It is futile to punish misbehaviour. The root cause should be removed. We must help adolescents to properly train their emotional energy and divert them towards the constructive ends.

Besides parents and teachers, there are certain ways an adolescent can handle himself/herself. It is imperative to understand that every adolescent is unique. Negative comparison with others should be avoided, especially in terms of physique, achievements and abilities. Adolescents should be aware that they are at a stage of great emotional instability.  Strong feelings like love, hatred, anger, sadness, happiness etc are part and parcel of adolescent life. Therefore before an extreme decision is taken, adolescents must not jump to faulty and destructive decisions. Continuous introspection by every adolescent can be a very healthy practice.

No stage of human development has been studied, observed, or speculated about as much as the stage of adolescence. Philosophers, psychologists, educationists, even laymen, have spewed forth a million words on what adolescence is, what adolescents do and what an adult society can do for them. Those who have tried to carefully study this stage in the cycle of life and have taken the trouble to probe the factors that cause the adolescent to be perceived as something or someone extraordinary, have found that adolescence is a normal and integral part of development. However, the needs discussed above are important to aid their development, which ultimately includes both the collective effort of parents, educators and adolescents themselves. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Current Scenario of Secular College Education in Nagaland by Dr. P. S. Lorin Principal, Tetso College

Students of Tetso College in class

Nagaland has 56 secular colleges out of which 15 are Government and 41 are Private Colleges in Nagaland. The number of College students in Nagaland as per the Annual Administrative Report of the Directorate of Higher Education is 29,601 for 2011-12. Out of this number, less than 1% of the students studying in Nagaland come from other states. A lot of things about our education system, ranging from the declaration of results to grievances of the student unions are about sending our brightest minds to study outside Nagaland state. Is that really the most ideal model for our state to follow? Maybe the time is now ripe to reverse this trend. We should make our schools and colleges the best in the country and have students all over India and abroad studying here. When students from other parts of the country or abroad study here, it automatically promotes tourism, commerce and employment.

Given the above scenario, in spite of the increase in the number of colleges, higher education in Nagaland is still not spoken in the same breath as the well known educational hubs of Shillong and Guwahati among the North-Eastern States. In the sixties and seventies, most Naga students used to go to Shillong or Guwahati for school and undergraduate studies and then proceeding to Delhi . It is only in the eighties and nineties that Nagaland has witnessed the growth of many quality schools espousing various teaching methodologies.  Today, I think Nagaland has a lot of quality schools and the school system seems to be continuously reinventing itself. This seems to be helping to overcome many of its earlier shortcomings. In my opinion, the school education scenario looks bright, provided the people concerned continue working in this manner.

On the other hand, the state of Higher Education in Nagaland sometimes worries me. Higher education seems to have taken a back seat for quite a while among our state’s list of priorities. Infrastructure and amenities in higher educational institutions pale in comparison to today’s schools. Even though, the 1990’s saw the mushrooming of many colleges, Nagaland has failed to pick up as an educational destination of choice for students from neighboring states or even for our own top students. We have failed to create an atmosphere that is conducive for academic excellence. This neglect is ultimately affecting our state’s economy. Without an educated work force industry will not invest, if industry does not invest then jobs can’t be created and if jobs can’t be created then the economy and business opportunities in our state automatically dwindle. Our state might already be in the process of a brain drain to some extent with our best brains studying, working and eventually settling outside of Nagaland state. Working and studying outside Nagaland is certainly not a negative thing; but it is our naga society as a whole which eventually loses out when our brightest minds don’t return home because of the chaotic situation in present day Nagaland.

A clearer picture of the importance Nagaland places on Higher Education emerges when looking at the state’s budget allotment on higher education. In 2010, Nagaland’s state budget allotment on higher education was the lowest among 24 states at 0.49%. States like Assam have provisions to support 188 colleges up to the extent of 100% funding under the Provincialization Act of 2005. In Meghalaya, out of 61 Colleges, 5 are Government Colleges and 20 others are under deficit financing (the government meets the salary shortfall of teachers) while the remaining 36 Colleges are receiving grant-in-aid from the government. In Delhi, out of 72 Colleges, 14 are provincialized (100% funding) Colleges and 58 others are receiving 90% funding (AIFUCTO). These policies ensure that teachers are adequately compensated, while still keeping the college fees low. They provide greater leverage to Colleges to pay appealing salaries that can attract quality talent, without having to raise fees that go beyond the reach of the common man. According to the latest statement by our Honorable Higher Education Minister of Nagaland on 7th September 2012, Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu, the department has substantially enhanced grant-in-aid to colleges this year. Positive steps like this are the need of the hour today.

I strongly believe that if the younger generations of today are the leaders of tomorrow, the Government along with the educational institutions in particular must provide them with the support structures to become true leaders of tomorrow. Education needs to be elevated as top priority after which everything else will follow progressively.

On the positive side, lately we notice many colleges in Nagaland pursuing NAAC accreditation, including efforts to attract and retain the best minds in the teaching profession. Government Teachers are now being provided 6th pay scale and many private colleges are taking steps to restructure their processes and match the shortfall to some extent. There is no doubt that we have a long way to go. It needs step by step progress and as long as we continue to move forward then that is a positive sign. Ultimately, higher education in Nagaland can only develop if all the stakeholders involved learn to work with each other. By stakeholders, I mean the University, teachers, government, students, parents and society as a whole.

Having only one exceptional college will never make Nagaland an educational destination. To make Nagaland into an educational hub that attracts students from all over the country and abroad, Nagaland needs many exceptional colleges led by an exceptional University. It’s the responsibility of the Government to create conditions in society which make such a dream a reality.

A key requirement from all stakeholders is the element of trust. There seems to be a deep rooted sense of skepticism and mistrust prevalent in a lot of our educational institutions. Teachers don’t trust the management, the government doesn’t trust the university, students don’t trust the teachers, parents don’t have faith in the educational institutions etc. While some of the mistrust might be valid, the drawback is that a pessimistic view can sometimes blind us to actual honest endeavors. Even honest attempts to create positive change may be mistaken as self-serving. Change takes time and sometimes it does take a while before we see the fruits of policy changes, however, with assistance and cooperation from the government and other stakeholders we might be able to bring about this change much sooner rather than later.

There is a saying, “There are some people who will find a problem within every solution while there are others who will find a solution to every problem.” I think it’s time we started concentrating on the latter. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Are you what you buy? Namsurei Thomas Kamei, Asst. Professor of Economics and creator of Facebook group “The Naga Economists”

Scholarships in the air!’ Well, at least in some bank accounts. So, what are students going to do with this money?  Books, fees, clothes or some “Project X” style crazy party? Liberalisation and relative peace in Nagaland seems to have brought about a mushrooming of showrooms and branded goods. We Nagas have never had it so good with the amazing flurry of choices available to us now. However, is that a positive thing? What do our choices say about us?

Are you what you buy?

Two friends went to shop in Dimapur. One of the friends wanted to buy a trendy jean. At the shop, without much fuss, they bought the jean at a whopping price of Rs. 6000, much to the amazement of one of the friends. The jean could have been bought at a much cheaper price. The amazed friend wanted to know why his friend bought it at such an exorbitant price. The friend replied coolly, “I can proudly claim it cost 6000 bucks”.
Another time during summer, both the friends went to shop again. This time one of the friends, wanted to buy the much talked about ‘white T-shirt’. They bought it without bothering about the price, the quality and whether it was extremely necessary.
Now, let us look at these two examples from an economists’ outlook. The first type of behaviour of buying is conspicuous consumption or prestige buying. Things we buy because of the price and to show-off and not so much because of the quality and its importance. The second type of behaviour of buying is called ‘band-wagon effect’ or ‘demonstration effect’. I need to buy because others too are buying. I must buy it to look trendy and follow others whether it is a constraint on my resource or not.
These are just two instances that prove “are we not what we buy?” I do not go for a T.V. set when what I need is a bed. I would not go for a computer when what I need is decent medical care. Are we buying what we are supposed to be buying? Are we, in a broad sense consuming what we really need?
The simple meaning of consumption is the intake of food and drinks. It is not as simple as what we understand of the meaning of the word. In a broader sense, consumption encompasses all the activities that do not require one to design, produce and market it. Therefore, all the goods and services that come under our activities are our consumption. A clearer example might be going to a church and listening to the sermons of a pastor. This is an act of consumption - the service of the pastor.
Are the things and ways in which we consume correct? Certainly, some areas of our lives, especially the behaviour of buying have been affected by the changes globally and locally. The introduction of the limitless “Freedom of choice” has concocted our behaviour of buying. Now it has become more or less a showpiece - consumption is power. Gradually things we require are replaced by things that others possess. The liberalisation of the economy has added thousands of commodities to the list of choice. The result, though late, is felt even in far flung areas of the country especially in our state - a consumerist state. It is pertinent to understand that the proportion of resources we spent on consumption should not be same as that of other producing states. It is also paradoxical that whatever we consume reflects our standard of living and whatever we consume now will determine our standard of living in the future. This is so because there cannot be growth without investment and investment can come only when there is saving.
There are many instances where we (Nagas) deviate from prudent spending/buying. Events like marriage, birthdays, christening, tribes’ festivals and religious functions can be better managed without so much of wastage of resources. The general assumption today is that in all these events the more the resources spent, the higher is the rate of returns. The day is not far when the sanctity of these events will be over consumed by the degree of commercial gains.
My opinion is that there is really no problem in trying to be like others. Trying to be like others who are more refined is a positive thing. It is a progressive sign. The problem is we over do it. Be it in our food habits, the dress we wear, the fashion we choose - we overdo it losing the essence of subtlety. We must not forget there is axone, anishi, bastenga,sukamas waiting back home for dinner.
“Check the money in your pocket, check what is really needed and buy it - you are what you buy”

“Child Labour-A Social Disease”, Hethono Sumi, Class 12 Arts.

In last week’s column, we talked about the true meaning of “Strive for Excellence” i.e. to never stop learning. Unfortunately, the day after teacher’s day, local dailies carried news about uniformed students playing truant caught red handed by a local student body. What is disturbing is that while one group of students is throwing away their opportunity to learn, there are some children who never get the same opportunity. This week we take a look at Child labour through the eyes of a Higher Secondary student, someone who is probably just as old as those caught playing truant on Teacher’s day. It was also the prize winning essay in the Tetso College Higher Secondary level essay competition.
“Child Labour-A Social Disease”

One of the best things that can happen to a person in his life is to have a happy childhood. Childhood is the first stage after infancy. It is the most formative period of a man's life. A period where the child should be going to school and playing, developing oneself spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. But this law of nature is not brought to fruition as the world of today is filled with millions of child labourers.

Child labour is the employment of children below a certain age, which is considered illegal by law and custom, for domestic work, factory work, agriculture, mining or the likes that deprives them of the pleasures of childhood and distorts promising lives. Child labour is a disease that is mentally, physically and morally dangerous.

Child labour appeared by the end of the 18th century and is still prevalent in our present society. About 38% of today's working population are children, 55% of these are between 5-14 years old. Children start working at a very tender age due to reasons like poverty, lack of proper education, overpopulation, unemployment, governmental failure, growth of informal economies, high educational and living cost.

Use of children for military purposes and prostitution are the most condemned forms of child labour. It is a pain to see millions of children who carry guns and bombs instead of toys. The very delight of being a child is altered by the people who should be protecting them. Occurrence of such incidents can often be seen in underdeveloped countries.

Prostitution is another great challenge every country faces. More than 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. India is one of the countries with the highest number of prostitutes. More than 30% of India's sex workers comprise of children. This often happens with ignorant parents and children being lured with promises of jobs and services.

Poverty is also another important cause for this social disease. Poor families put their children to work in order to improve the family's economic status. They do not give much importance to education and refrain their children from attending schools. Millions of hidden talents go wasted when these children's urge to go to school is dismissed by their parents.

One should not be surprised when one gets to learn the fact that Nagaland alone holds more than 9000 child labourers. Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland, has around 3500 children who are engaged in commercial sectors. Poor family’s make their children work hoping the employers will feed and send their children to schools. But the sad fact is that most of them are not sent to school. They are often ill-treated and abused by the employers.

In a society where many households may have to suffer the pangs of hunger if the children stop working, beggars cannot be choosers. These families have to send their children to work, even if the future of these innocents are ruined, as that is the only choice open to them to survive in this world. Elimination of child labour will be a distant dream as long as the socio-economic status of poor families is not improved.

India is doing its best to tackle child labour. Article 24, 39 and 45 from the constitution of India states that no child below the age of 14 shall be employed, children are to be protected against exploitation and the state shall endeavour to provide free and compulsory education for all children till the age of 14 years. The citizens on the other hand, should give certain monetary or, if need be non-monetary incentives to the families that live 'Below Poverty Line' (BPL) to avoid child labour so that their children can be sent to school. We should take part in eliminating inequities, including class and caste barriers to all aspects of opportunities.

Child labour is a disease that should be eradicated, leaving no trace behind for future generations. It requires cumulative efforts to wipe it off. The future of the world depends on children since the children of today are the citizens of tomorrow. A child is the father of man. Feeding a child, sending him to school, and having him experience a normal childhood might seem to be such a small thing, a trifle challenge, but it works miracles.

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts sponsored by the Council of Rengma Baptist Churches” For Feedback or comments, please email:

Strive For Excellence: Kvulo Lorin, Director-Administration, Tetso College

“The world is flat!” To borrow a popular phrase coined by Thomas Friedman, our hilly state of Nagaland seems to be in the process of being flattened as well. Now, he does not mean that our round planet is changing its shape or the Naga Hills are eroding to flat plains. Friedman is actually referring to our interconnected world and the rapid sharing and exchanging of information. Coming closer home, it’s apparent with all the Mission Pot-Hole pictures, protests against electricity and warnings against administrators of certain blogs to censor content, to not do ‘this’ or ‘that or else’…, that there is a change taking place, a change that’s different from our earlier extolled head hunting practices.

Nagaland isn’t lagging too far behind in the flat race. Social media, cell phones, email and our fastest mode of communication - “gossip”, are spreading views and news quicker than ever before.  The onslaught of global TV shows, blockbuster movies, music hits and even food like pizza and burgers have not spared our humble state. 

Change is happening not just in the lives we live but in the mindsets we’re bringing into play in our daily life. We are being catapulted into a future that none of us can actually predict. I believe it is akin to a revolution where things that once seemed to be obvious (like a guaranteed job on passing your matric) are not always so, things we once took for granted (communication and civic sense) cannot be overlooked anymore.  This rapid change seems to be bringing out a dog eats dog competition for jobs, contracts and rampant consumerism in a “keeping up with the Jones’” syndrome. Pessimists may scoff but considering where we were half a century ago, I think significant progress has been made.

Flatness and change is permeating our society. Even employment avenues aren’t spared. Here in Nagaland, the HOT jobs are obviously all Government Jobs. At one time, I am sure being a hunter was right up there with being an IIM Alumni. A head hunting warrior was probably the ‘David Beckham’ of that era, well known and famous among all the villages. Today, I don’t think head hunters can command much in terms of salary (at least I hope not).

Through the decades we’ve seen a lot of HOT jobs. According to my very in-depth google research, during the 1980’s in the USA, everyone wanted to be a stockbroker, until the stock market crashed in 1987. Then there was a time when it was all about computer science, followed by what was supposedly the career of the future - “bio-technology”, and then the torrent of MBA’s. However, it is reassuring to know that the legendarily elusive Government job is still hot property for whatever reasons there may be (and I know there are many).

To be honest, I along with my friends began our ascent to greatness aiming to be doctors, IAS officers, lawyers, computer engineers etc. It’s a different matter, that I started off gunning for computer science and today, I am proudly NOT a computer scientist, or that many of my learned engineering, political scientist and historian friends seem to have taken up careers as professional NPSC and UPSC exam writers for the past… uh… sorry, I’ve lost count. Not that I have anything against computer scientists or government job aspirants (just some harmless banter).

When it comes to education, I think it’s surprising where and how the history of the Harrappan civilization or algebraic equations come into play during certain moments in our actual life. By this, I don’t mean reciting lines from Shakespeare’s ’Romeo and Juliet’ in self-defence during a fist fight.  Believe it or not, one day I actually somehow recalled learning that the Western Ghats generates electricity (may be the Dimapur power situation helped draw that one out). Steve Jobs, the innovator of iPads, iPods and iPhones, gave credit for his success to a surprisingly unlikely source—a course on calligraphy (the art of writing) that he took as an undergraduate at Reed College, under a maverick professor named Loyd Reynolds.   So, why was a computer engineer like Steve Jobs,  learning calligraphy? It had no practical application in his life, but ten years later it finally came into play when he designed the Macintosh computer as the first computer with beautiful typography. The rest is history. 

I know there are a lot of us who spend years studying with basically very little idea about what to do next. Education may or may not light up that passion about your calling in life. However, like Steve Jobs, you never know where those skills you picked up in college or school are going to come in handy. It is essential to have the basic foundation, but beyond that, I think it is all about your passion. A worst case scenario would be one where you are hunting for a job so that you don’t have to go to your job! Unfortunately, I am not aware of any pork tasting jobs for our many passionate pork consumers in Nagaland.

The gist of the Steve Jobs reference is probably that there is never any loss in learning something new. I strongly recommend taking that computer course, dreaded history or accountancy class, gardening, music,  yoga(I heard its good for losing weight) simply because knowing more might just come in handy one day. Besides, it also makes for great dinner conversations, especially for the speaker. If you have not found your passion yet, most likely it is not just going to come and hit you on the head (unless you are Isaac Newton). It might arrive subtly after a degree of hard work. But once you have found it, striving for excellence means to never stop learning in pursuit of your passion.

Allow me to conclude by referring back to Loyd Reynolds, Steve Jobs’ calligraphy instructor. Did you know that Steve Jobs was not the only famous person in those calligraphy courses taught by Loyd Reynolds? Entrepreneur Peter Norton of Norton Utilities (Norton Antivirus, my geeky buddies) and a few more famous poets who I can’t seem to recall right now were also influenced by Loyd Reynolds. What’s more interesting though is the fact that Loyd Reynolds had actually gone to Reed to teach in the English department and not calligraphy. While I strongly concur that we must never stop dreaming nor lose sight of our ambition, you also never know what you might ultimately end up doing someday or along the way. Learning never ends. No one ever said striving for excellence would be easy.  

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts sponsored by the Council of Rengma Baptist Churches” For Feedback or comments, please email:

The Missing Principles in Naga Society - Zuchano Khuvung, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Moral and ethical values as social categories are crucial for generating a sound culture in any given society. However, people tend t...