India’s northeast is a region that lies significantly isolated from India’s main landmass due to its unique geographical location. The social and demographic aspects of the region are diverse and multifaceted in nature. This characteristic has both been a bane as well as a boon for the region for several reasons. Education is one such sector in which the region has witnessed both positives and negatives at the same time. Often termed as a region belonging to tribal and isolated populations, the states have shown robust growth at many junctures compared to mainland India.
The tale of “The seven sisters”
India’s northeast comprises of seven states namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Since India’s independence they have been known to be the most unfrequented of lands which happened to be the disadvantage for the states in many cases. A few decades ago, education lay in shambles in all the states in the region except Mizoram and Nagaland. A low density population, numerous ethnic tribes and languages, inaccessible terrain and many more hurdles lay in the path of educational development in the region. Moreover the lack of diligence among the central government happened to be another prime factor.
The changing tides
Recent trends have revealed some startling yet joyous facts regarding the state of education in India’s northeast. According to 2001 census the literacy rates in the educationally lagging states were drastic. Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Assam and Manipur were ranked 26th, 19th, 18th and 17th respectively. The next census of 2011 saw the same states raising much above their past national rankings. This time states the same states were ranked 27th, 17th, 19th and 11th respectively. The growth will be more obvious from the fact that Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh ranked 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 10th respectively in terms of nationwide growth of literacy rates. The region’s honour is further heightened by the performance of Mizoram, Tripura and Nagaland who grabbed the 2nd, 3rd and 6th spots respectively in terms of state-wise literacy rates.
Reasons behind the metamorphosis
The drastic turnaround in education has been possible due to many positive happenings taking place in the region over the past many years. The statistics are a result of many an adverse battle fought in many domains. The government as well as the society have played the most important role of creating awareness regarding the need for education. School dropout rates have been largely arrested and children are now even encouraged to pursue higher education. The ethnic differences and a successful reign of peaceful times have also augured well for the masses. The government too is happy that its initiatives have produced golden harvests and hence keener than ever to work for further development in the region.
Northeast in the future
Education in India’s northeast is definitely shining radiantly and deservedly is emerging as India’s most literate region in current times. The growth pattern and results clearly reflect the steely determination and resoluteness of the people to pursue education. India can thus hope for more in the offing from the “seven sisters” so that they can contribute increasingly for the nation’s development.