Shillong, Oct 6: The Hynniewtrep Integrated Territorial Organisation has castigated the state government for its high hopes that there will be Meghalayans at future Olympic Games when there are just four physical education teachers in all of Meghalaya’s government schools.
Recently, around the time of the Tokyo Games, the Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, had expressed hope and a certain amount of confidence that Meghalaya would be able to send athletes to the Olympics in the future, if not by 2024 then at least by 2028.
In this regard, the CM said in the Assembly, the government has begun, or plans to begin shortly, massive sports infrastructure projects to the tune of Rs 500 crore.
HITO, though, questioned what good that infrastructure would do when there are just four PE teachers across the hundreds of government schools in the state. It had obtained this information following a Right to Information (RTI) request filed in July.
Out of the four, the pressure group said, only two actually have the required qualifications.
The reasons given for the absence of PE teachers by the government was paucity of funds and the fact that the Meghalaya Board of Secondary Education (MBOSE) syllabus does not include PE as a compulsory subject.
The RTI also revealed that there is no grant-in-aid from the Education Department to schools and colleges to conduct extracurricular activities, including sports.
This is the case despite the National Education Policy 2020 promoting the importance of sports. Other education boards, like the Central Board of Secondary Education and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, also include PE in their curriculums.
Not only that, even Meghalaya’s own Sports Policy and Youth Policy emphasise the need for scientific physical fitness programmes to motivate and encourage school going children to pursue a healthier, more active way of life.
While the policies are good on paper, “the reality is that it appears the various departments, especially the Education Department, are not aware of these important policy decisions made and have given contradictory replies, which are discouraging,” HITO said in a press release signed by its President Donbok Dkhar and Assistant General Secretary Lawyerson War.
They added that the Education Department is apparently going against the Right to Education Act, which emphasises the need for playgrounds in schools, part-time instructors in PE in upper primary schools, supply of play materials and games and sports equipment in schools.
If the government could only prioritise PE in schools, it would not find it difficult to find the teachers as there are many young people who have gained the requisite teaching qualifications.
“If the state government can move quickly on the issue of physical education teachers, there would be hope for our state to produce champions of national and international quality,” Dkhar and War said.