Conflict, State and Education in India: A Study of Manipur

Komol Singha

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Conflict, State and Education in India: A Study of Manipur

Komol Singha

Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, India


Conflict has been one of the greatest threats to mankind since the dawn of civilisation. Poorest communities, children and educational sector are among those severely affected by it, especially in the developing countries. Whether education creates conflict or conflict affects educational development is an inconclusive debate till today. The present study is both a qualitative and quantitative analysis, tries to assess educational development status in the midst of conflict in Manipur, one of the north eastern most states of India. An assessment is also made whether the development of education resolves conflict or conflict restrains educational development in the state. With the help of primary and secondary data and by employing comparative growth analysis between the education and conflict in the state, the study found that the conflict does not affect educational growth, but it pushes the children out of the state for their studies. As the incidence of conflict in Manipur has reached its stalemate and at the same time educational development level has grown at a faster rate than the former and based on the Brahm’s inverted U shape conflict pyramid, the state is expected to return to normalcy and enjoy a peaceful life very shortly.

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Cite this article:

  • Singha, Komol. "Conflict, State and Education in India: A Study of Manipur." American Journal of Educational Research 1.6 (2013): 181-193.
  • Singha, K. (2013). Conflict, State and Education in India: A Study of Manipur. American Journal of Educational Research, 1(6), 181-193.
  • Singha, Komol. "Conflict, State and Education in India: A Study of Manipur." American Journal of Educational Research 1, no. 6 (2013): 181-193.

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1. Introduction

Education is generally considered as a cornerstone of socio-economic and cultural development of a society/country. In the early 1960s, seminal works of T. W. Schultz has started extensively analysing the importance of education on human development and its impact on economic growth [1]. Education has emerged as the most important single input in promoting human resource development, achieving rapid economic development and technological progress, creating a social order, based on the virtues of freedom, social justice and equal opportunities [2, 3, 4]. On the one hand, education plays a vital role in the present world, for not only raising the standard of living but also as a mechanism to prevent conflict situation in the society. On the other hand, conflict has concurrently rife with an increase in all levels of educational attainments, might affect lives on economic (such as, hunger, poverty or joblessness), social (like, deprived, homeless or widow) and psychological (such as, fear or insecurity of all people) dimensions in the developing societies [1].

Nevertheless, a detail study on the nexus between education and conflict is a very recent phenomenon and a limited research has been done on the issue, especially in India [5]. In 2007, Brendan O’Malley’s work, ‘Education under Attack’ published by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is considered as the first ever detail study of its kind [6]. Till today, the role of education on conflict resolution is highly debated upon and the analysis of “conflict in fragile states” has gained significant attention within the community of academia and policy makers in the recent past [5]. Though some studies have tried to estimate a linkage between educational outcomes and violence, no clear causal direction of the two has been established [39] and no formal model has been developed yet [21, 24]. Nevertheless, seeing the present mayhem world, whether education creates conflict or conflict affects educational development processes has become one of the researchable topics today. The present paper is the modest attempt to look into this aspect.

2. Conceptual Framework

With the emergence of materialistic society and the ever growing privatisation of world economy, the incidence of conflict and violence has increased dramatically [53]. Many people and organisations view conflict as a negative, or something to be avoided. Yet conflict, differences, or disagreements are a natural result of people working together. Also, without conflict, society becomes in complacent and can not perform at the optimum levels [59]. In this line, some of the writings [7, 8, 60] have regarded conflict as a key catalyst for social change. Their productive transformation towards social progress can, as a rule, only succeed when the particular ability of individuals and collectives to manage and resolve conflicts peacefully and constructively, in addition to the reliability of the corresponding societal, institutional and legal framework conditions is undertaken [8]. It can be achieved when the society is well convinced, aware the consequence of war and conflict, also the probability of its achievement is high after a certain level of educational development is reached by the society [6, 9, 10, 11].

Study by Smith [12] pointed out that education might be a driver of conflict by fuelling grievances, stereotypes, xenophobia and other antagonisms. But it can also be a way of contributing to conflict transformation and peace building. According to Mitchell [13], conflict is a necessary and inevitable dynamic in all human relationships. While, education gives awareness and opens up mind and expands our horizon. Education spreads not only awareness but also informs us about our rights and the services that we can access. It also enables us to understand our duties as a citizen and encourages us to follow them. The relationship between educational development and conflict in a transitional stage of a society looks like an inverted U shape [14]. Though education creates some sort of misunderstandings or conflicts in the initial development trajectory of the society, it resolves conflicts and brings peaceful solution at the end when educational development of the society reaches a certain level [7, 14].

Figure 1. Conflict Pyramid with the Growth of Education Source: [14]

As shown the conflict pyramid/stalemate in Figure 1, when and how fast the peak point of conflict will reach and how long will it remain in the state of stalemate, is determined mainly by the educational status, supported by the institutional effort, society’s norm and public policy [1, 14, 43, 48]. In this context, number of study reports prepared by the UNESCO have recommended for peace and quality education of children [6, 9, 10]. Similar recommendation was also given by many other scholars [15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21]. Therefore, the conflict and violence that are being confronted by present world will definitely come down after a certain level of educational development and society’s awareness level.

3. Objectives and Methodology

India’s north eastern most state of Manipur is plagued with varied forms of conflict and violence. The present study is the modest attempt to analyse educational development trend of the state in the midst of conflict. Whether growth of education curtails conflict or conflict restrains educational development is also analysed. While analysing conflict and education, the study further attempts to compare educational development between Manipur and all India level.

To achieve the above mentioned objectives, a simple comparative analysis between the growth rate of incidence of conflict and educational development was made by employing primary as well as secondary data. However, main emphasis was given to the secondary data that have been collected from different published sources like, Directorate of Economics and Statistics (DES), Registrar General and Census Commissioner (RGCC), National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), etc. The data on literacy rate, enrolment rate, drop-out rate, etc. were collected from the NSS 50th Round (1993-94) Report No. 409, 55th Round (1999-00) Report No. 458, 61st Round (2004-05) Report No. 515 (1) and 66th (2009-10) Round Report No.537. The types of institutions, institutional infrastructures and rural-urban literacy rate, male-female educational status were collected from DES (2010). The collected data were analysed by employing correlation function, frequency distribution and percentile.

Pearson’s correlationship function was estimated between education and conflict, public expenditure on education and enrolment rate in different stages of education, population and literacy rate, population and expenditure on education. For which, relevant data on projected population were collected from the RGCCR (2012), insurgency related fatalities, list of conflicts, economic blockades, forceful closures of market places in the state and country were collected from South Asia Terrorism Portal (2012) and expenditure on education, literacy rate, enrolment rate and educational growth rate were collected from the different rounds of NSSO given above.

To substantiate secondary data, primary data were also randomly collected in the month of June-July 2012, from 52 Manipuri students who were studying in Bangalore (India). For collecting primary data, a well-structured questionnaire was employed. To identify the factors responsible for their study outside the state and the types and standard of education they pursued, a few relevant questions like the course and standard they study, parental educational status, type of institutions where they are studying, five main factors (refer Table 15) which compelled the children to study outside the state, etc. were asked.

Due to data constraints and nature of data available with us, the present study could not employ advanced econometric models and causality test to identify the direction of the variables (conflict and education). Also, it is identified that the theories of causality fail to account for understanding of the many ways in which young people and conflict may be linked [24]. Therefore, some approximation was bound to be made and the study confines to simple growth and structure of education and conflict incidences in the state as well as the country. The term “development” in this paper will interchangeably be used with the term “growth”, same as between the terms “conflict” and “violence”. The logic behind analysing this small state of Manipur in this present study lies in seeing it as ‘mini-India’, covering many communities, culture, religion and geopolitics.

4. Brief Literature of the Study

Conflict, violence and social upheaval have been one of the greatest threats to development processes of modern world [11]. Poorest communities, children and the educational sector are among those severely affected by it, especially in the developing countries [10, 25]. Despite a number of affirmative actions, conflict resolution programmes, rehabilitation works that have been done by UNESCO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other agencies in the world and their anticipation for a peaceful world after the Cold War or at least halving the conflict incidence by 2015 has been shattered by ever increasing conflicts in the world [7, 11, 18]. Most of these conflicts (almost 90%) are intra-national conflicts, occurring within the borders of states primarily ethnically-driven over self-determination, succession or political dominance [58].

As of the nexus between the two, many scholars [11, 20, 24] have opined that initially education often leads to highly complex conflict situations in the world and it is supported by ever growing spurt of conflicts across the globe. Study by Seitz [8] explored that formal education system contributes to exacerbating and escalating societal conflicts. Besides production and reproduction of socio-economic disparities, it also promotes the teaching of identity and citizenship concepts. As a result, cultural plurality of society is often denied and then leads to intolerance towards the others, either intentionally or unintentionally [20]. At present, “Jihadi Terrorism” all over the world is an outcome of the greater effort made by “Madrassa” system of education. For instance, the very system of education in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan provides ideological ends that might have strong implications for reinforcement of conflict [25]. However, analysis made by Smith and Vaux [19] revealed that education can be a part of the problem as well as part of the solution.

On the other side of the coin, Bird [22] explored that access to formal schooling may often be jeopardised by the conflicts. It is also found that general civil wars have a negative impact on educational attainment and affects education, particularly the children and girls. Relatively a minor shock to educational access can lead to significant and long-lasting detrimental effects on individual human capital formation in terms of educational attainment, health outcomes and labour market opportunities [44]. Children are often used by the rebel groups as civilian shields to protect military forces or as army pack animals. They are forced to become soldiers, army slaves or prostitutes under the threat of violence [38]. For instance, there was an increasing use of children in armed conflicts, particularly in Indo-China war during the 1960s [40]. Similarly, many children have been recruited by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka [25]; also, on their way to or at school in Somali [47]. Parents all over the world live in a web of fear that their children will be recruited by the forces– state or rebel group. Unfortunately, the examination of the situation of children affected by armed conflicts, to date, has been little reported on [25].

One of the seminal works by UNESCO explored that education can help in banishing prejudices and tensions that exist, especially between communities, and possibly even prevent any such conflict in the future [51]. There are a number of ways in which education is contributing to building the conditions for long-term, positive peace [7]. It is also recommended that a high enrolment rate of males in secondary school can reduce conflict risk to a great extent [27]. With the help of panel data collected from thirty-one African countries, an analysis was made by UNESCO that education per se has no significant influence on the frequency of intra-state conflicts; but potentially reduces the frequency of conflicts [11]. In an another study by the University of the Western Cape using an aggregated measure of all intra-state major episodes of political violence as proxy for conflict and controlling some other variables, it was explored that education effectively reduces the likelihood of intra-state conflicts in African continent [17]. In Colombia too, using a cross-sectional survey, it was estimated that the school enrolment decreases homicide rates [21]. However, the study using panel data by Gates and Strand [5] could not find any effect of conflict on education levels; none of their estimates were found to be statistically significant. Based on their fieldwork conducted in three countries of Guatemala, Nepal and Liberia, the study further highlighted that education is only a part of the peace-building process, and it cannot by itself resolve the root causes of a conflict.

Ultimately, almost all the scholars who explored education as a creator of conflict have come to a common consensus that if education is nurtured properly, it will empower people to have the ability, to form opinions and act on issues concerning societal development [11]. Education goes beyond the provision of a mere programme for peace; rather it reflects the cumulative benefits of the provision of good quality education. It includes conflict-dampening impact of educational opportunity, the promotion of linguistic tolerance, the nurturing of ethnic tolerance, etc. [20].

In the context conflict resolution, Brahm [11] was very optimistic that the conflict can be reduced through dialogues and negotiations. A fruitful dialogue or negotiation can again be arrived at only when people are well educated embedded with ethics and morality. Dialogue does not mean that ones grievance or demand is tabled for negotiation and stuck onto it. Similarly, Kotite [15] has emphasised that the root cause of the conflict should be understood. Education can contribute to mitigating conflict along the three primary aspects– structural, behavioural and attitudinal. Education can alter societal contradictions (structural), improve relations and interactions (behavioural), and encourage in changes (attitudinal) in ways that can reduce the risk of conflict and help in building sustainable peace. Dupuy [7] identified six interconnected areas of key findings on how education can contribute to building peace:

1. Educational inclusion lowers motivation and raises opportunity costs for those participating in armed conflict.

2. Government investment in formal education systems is critical for building peace.

3. Quality education delivered in violence-free, cooperative learning environments teaches children critical lessons about non-violent conflict resolution.

4. The curriculum is a critical element in efforts to heighten constraints against the use of violence and promote human rights.

5. Participatory education systems can raise the social costs of and constraints against engaging in armed conflict.

6. Education that fosters positive socio-economic development can help prevent armed conflict.

5. Overview of Conflict and Education in Manipur and India

Manipur is one of the North Eastern-most states of India, bordering Myanmar (Burma) in the east, and three Indian States – Nagaland, Assam and Mizoram in the north, west and south respectively. It was an independent Kingdom and merged/annexed(1) to Indian union in 1949. The state is endowed with rich natural resources and has a long history of geo-political development in South East Asia [57] and divided into two parts, inhabited broadly by two communities– Meitei (generally known as Manipuri) in the valley (concentrated in 10% of state’s total land area) and tribes in the hill (spread over 90% of state’s total area). Small area of valley (10% of state’s area) is surrounded by hills which consists of 90% of the state’s total geographical area (refer Figure 2). The latter community is the confederation of 33 recognised and other non-recognised tribes. Unfortunately, at present, the State is passing through different social turmoil, ethnic violence and social upheavals. It includes insurgency for secession to the movement for greater autonomy, intra to inter ethnic clashes and fight over resources [23, 42, 49]. Frequent eruption of violence and conflict that arises from the different ethnic communities in search of and to assert their identities disturb educational environment in the State.

5.1. Conflict in Manipur

Broadly, the types of conflict that are being encountered by the state can be analysed into two: 1) Internal conflict– it includes inter-community and intra-community conflicts for resource dominance, power and identity reconciliation, 2) Conflict between state and society– it implies conflict between insurgent groups and state for greater autonomy, secession or sovereignty of Manipur. Both affect normal life and educational environment in the state, directly or indirectly.

5.1.1. Internal Conflict

As the state is inhabited by many communities, the issue of dominance over economic and political power by dominant community and revolt against them by the weaker communities are the regular affairs. In the one hand, during the colonial period, hill communities have polarised into two broader groups – Naga and Kuki for economic and political benefits and this movement has been intensified in the post-statehood period, especially to face the dominant community Meitei [53]. On the other hand, at the same time, the dominant community ‘Meitei’ living in the valley started two main movements: a) revivalist movement to preserve traditional religion (Sanamahi), Meitei script, culture and tradition; b) revolutionary movement to revive pre-merger status of the state. In this manner, protection of their own identity, culture, economic and political power of almost all the communities in the state has been given impetus. As a consequence of it, many insurgent groups have been formed, and often at least one fraction of the groups.

With the varying ideologies of the groups and most of them are often found to be blurred; they are acting independently for their own benefit without taking into the interest of the others [46]. A few of them are fighting for sovereignty (e.g. a few of Meitei insurgent groups). Some are negotiating with the government for separate state or greater autonomy within the state (e.g. Naga and Kuki insurgent groups) and at the same time, other smaller groups are struggling for their survival. As a consequence of it, internal conflict has increased significantly and led to prisoner’s dilemma of the groups in the recent years in the state. This condition (disintegration of different groups) is preferred by the government for their convenient administration and control over the groups [46]. Despite this fragmentation of the groups, polarisation of smaller groups to face larger groups is also happening. It is also found that the ethnic/group polarization of communities (dominance of one group makes up 45% and more population) is likely to experience more conflict [27]. Some of the visible internal conflicts that have crippled Manipur since 1990s are given in Table 1.

From Table 1, we can find that almost 42 thousand people out of 22 lakh population of the state in 2001 have been displaced. Almost 2 to 3 per cent of state’s population (approximately 20 per cent in the state’s hill region) in 1990s have been displaced due to ethnic conflict in Manipur. Barring the fourth incident (Meitei-Pangal conflict), remaining four incidents (Kuki-Naga, Kuki-Zomi, Thadou-Paite conflicts) given in the Table 1 were happened purely in the thinly populated tribal/hill districts. Altogether 800 people were killed, 480 wounded and 5713 families displaced during the bloody Kuki-Naga conflict in the 1990s. In 1997, in the Kuki-Paite clash, altogether 162 people were killed, 93 injured, 71 kidnapped and 3521 houses burnt [36]. Besides, there are a few other indirect effects of internal conflict that led to displacement of the many people in the State. The larger conflict remains in the state and that has become very complex is the conflict between the hill and valley communities over the dominance of territory and demand for separate states within the state.

Table 1. Internal Conflict and Population Displacement in Manipur

5.1.2. Conflict between State and Society

Here, the conflict is directed against the state by the armed groups. The Indian army, including the Assam Rifles, the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force and the Manipur Police, are currently engaged in fighting against armed rebels. With the growth of separatist movement, Manipur was declared ‘disturbed area’ in 1980 and subsequently the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 (AFSPA) was imposed [35]. There are allegations of the very Act (AFSPA) being misused by the members of the state forces, as the Act allows them to kill anybody in mere suspicion of anti-national and no complain can be made against them. Besides killing, there have been number of cases of forced disappearances of young children by the state forces in Manipur [41]. As mentioned above, some of the consequences of the conflict between state and society are given in Table 2.

Table 2. Number of Insurgency related Fatalities in Manipur

Table 2 depicts the number of violence related fatalities and share of State’s fatalities to North Eastern Region(2) and national level. About 34 per cent of the region’s total fatalities are contributed by Manipur in the last ten years. As a result of which, a large section of people are living in a web of insecurity which is not induced by them. Common people of the state are being grappled between the forces – state and insurgent groups, insurgent groups.

With the development of education and growing consciousness of their identity in the recent past, Meitei revivalist movement, especially the Meetei Erol Eyek Loinasillon Apunba Lup (MEELAL) has also created number of agitations in the valley districts of the State [55]. Its impact has been felt directly or indirectly in the hill communities as well, and reacted in many forms especially by the Naga community in the State. For instance, the dictate of MEELAL to introduce Meitei-Mayek (Manipuri script) as a compulsory subject, at least in the school level in 1980s and 1990s was felt as an autocratic rule of Meitei (dominant community) to the hill communities in Manipur [50]. As a result of which, in 2007, more than 2000 (two thousand) Nagas students from Manipur were directed by the Naga Civil Organisations to appear matriculation examination in the neighbouring state of Nagaland [50].

Table 3. Bandh/Forceful Closure, Blockade & Economic Loss in Manipur (Rs in Cr)

Whatsoever the reason, the major displaced victims were mostly the women and children, as the male members have greater mobility. It greatly affects their educational development in the State. Table 3 depicts the nature and trend of violence and its impact on economy of Manipur. On an average, 9 to 10 per cent of the state’s NSDP was lost due to bandh (forceful closure) and blockades (especially the National Highways) in the last six years. Not delving into the causes of blockades and forceful closure, the year 2011 recorded the highest number of days ever to have called for economic blockades in the State(3). The blockade has caused violation of human rights as this has resulted in immense suffering of the majority of the State’s people, mainly valley people (65% of state’s population) who had to go without basic essentials for over four months at a stretch. According to the Directorate of Statistics and Economics, Government of Manipur, in 2004-05, the state experienced 20 days state-wide blockades, and it led to a loss of Rs 22 per head per day, totalling to a lost of Rs 5.34 crores per day. In the same year, the state faced 60 days of closure of National Highways (NH)(4), which led to a loss of Rs 9 per head per day totalling to a loss of Rs 2.32 crore per day [28]. In 2005-06, the state-wide bandh led to a loss of Rs 24 per head per day totalling to a loss of Rs 6.13 crores per day and loss of Rs 11 per head per day totalling to Rs 2.67 crores per day for National Highway blockade. In the case of 2006-07, state-wide bandh led to a loss of Rs 6.44 crores per day in the state [52]. Though it is not estimated scientifically, the losses caused on educational environment by the bandh and blockades in the state were not less than the economic losses mentioned above, during the same period.

5.2. Education in Manipur:

In Manipur, irrespective of the persistent stirring of violence and conflict, the literacy(5) rate has increased substantially for both males and females across the areas over the last two decades [55]. When compared to the national trend, growth trend of literacy rate in the last two decades, particularly for the rural area is highly appreciable. Despite poor road and communication infrastructure, people of Manipur have shown great enthusiasm in acquiring higher education. The performance of women on education especially in the rural area is very significant and is much higher than the national level (refer Table 6).

Table 4 shows that the literacy rate in Manipur on the eve of country’s independence was much lower than the national level. Thereafter, it has constantly increased from 13 per cent (13 literates per 100 persons) in 1951 to 80 per cent in 2011. The growth of literacy rate in the state has registered was higher than the national level. Within the state, the growth rate of educational development in rural and tribal districts has gone up significantly in the last decade, probably due to English education in the area [2].

As shown by Table 5, despite recent conflicts in the 1990s and 2000s, the hill districts namely – Senapati, Chandel, Ukhrul, Churachandpur and Tamenglong have made better improvement than the valley districts in terms of literacy rate in the last decade (2001 to 2011). However, in the previous decade from 1991 to 2001, the change in the literacy rate has been in the favour of valley districts like Bisnupur and Thoubal.

Table 6 makes a comparison of literacy rate between male and female in the state, and with all India level in the last two decades. The literacy rate in rural areas of Manipur increased from 64 per cent in 1993-94 to 79.1 per cent in 2009-10. While, at the all India level, it was 43.5 per cent in 1993-94 and increased to 62.1 per cent in 2009-10 which is still lower than Manipur’s level of 1993-94. Similarly, in urban area of Manipur, the literacy rate was 76 per cent in 1993-94 and increased marginally to 82.1 per cent in 2009-10. As for national level, it was 69 per cent in 1993-94 and increased to 78.6 per cent in 2009-10. In the early 1990s, about 75 per cent of the literate population of the state completed middle school level and the rest (25%) acquired secondary and higher education in rural areas in Manipur.

Table 5. Literacy Rates in the Districts of Manipur and its Change Rate (1981-2011)

In the case of national level, about 85 per cent of the total literate population completed middle school and the rest about 15 per cent only attained more than secondary during the same period in rural areas [1]. Over the years, with the increase in government expenditure on education and raised the enthusiasm of formal employment, eventually the rate of secondary and above level of education (higher education) in the state has grown significantly. For instance, the state has reached about 38 per cent of higher education rate against 24 per cent at the national level in rural areas during 2009-10. Larger proportion of literate people of Manipur have attained secondary and above, against the national level.

Table 7. Percentage Distribution of Literate Persons by General Educational Level

Further, from Table 7 we can clearly see that a larger proportion of literate male than female have attained secondary and higher level of education in Manipur when compared to the national level. For example, during 1993-94, about 32 per cent of the females against about 43 per cent of males completed secondary and above level of education in urban Manipur. It indicates that male members got more access to higher education as patriarchal system is practiced in the State. Further, the growth of higher education in the state was found to be higher than the national level for both males and females particularly in rural areas. For example, about 43 and 32 per cent for the males and females respectively attained higher education out of the total literate population in Manipur, against about 27 and 19 per cent for male and female respectively in the national level in rural areas during 2009-10.

Table 8. District-wise Decadal School Enrolment in Manipur

In the case of decadal growth rate, from Table 8 we can see decadal growth rate of school enrolment at different levels in different districts. To reflect a glimpse of state level average annual growth rate of enrolment in three decades from 1991 to 2006, it was 8.2 per cent at the primary level (not shown in Table). It increased to 40 per cent in the Middle School level (VI to VIII) and further jumped to107 per cent in the High school level. In totality, the annual average growth rate of school enrolment (including Class XI to XII) in Manipur from 1991 to 2006 turned out to be 20 per cent.

When compared to the national level for Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 2009-10, Table 9 shows that the state is much ahead of the national level. In the category of Class I to V (6-10 years of age), the GER of Manipur was 186 compared to 115.5 of the national level. It was slightly lower in the second stage of class VI to VIII (11 to 13 years of age group) with the GER of Manipur being 103.3 and 151.6 for Class I to VIII level together. While, it was 81.5 and 102.3 for the level of Class VI to VIII and Class I to VIII level respectively for the national in 2009-10.

Table 9. Gross Enrolment Ratio of Primary and Middle School in 2009-10

Table 10. Enrolment and % of Total Population (UG Courses as on 30th Sept., 2007)

As on September 30, 2007, as for the total enrolment of UG courses and its percentage to total population, Table 10 shows that the state of Manipur was found to be below the national level of the courses like general Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Management and Law. The enrolment per cent of Medicine to total population of the state is very close to national level. However, the percentage of enrolment in Commerce and Teacher’s training to total population in Manipur is much higher than the national level.

Table 11. Enrolment and % of Total Population (PG Courses, as on 30th Sept., 2007)

As for the total enrolment of PG courses and its percentage to total population, Table 11 shows that the state of Manipur was found to be much higher than the national level. Especially, the enrolment percentage of MPhil/PhD, General Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Management courses was found to be much higher than the national level. This shows that overall higher education level of the state is much higher than the national level, especially for the traditional courses available to the people of the state.

6. Interfacing Education with Conflict an Manipur

Not going into detail causes of conflict, it is clear that the state of Manipur is plagued with conflict and violence after joining/merging to India. Initially, the violence in the State was confined mainly with the revolutionary groups of Meitei and the state or security forces for reviving pre-merger status of the state. But, in the recent years, especially after 1990s, the situation has turned into a different picture, affected the masses [26], education, children and women [1]. Its magnitude has more or less been same since 2000, reached its stalemate. In the midst of conflict, education in Manipur has also developed at a faster rate than national level. What is the driving force of it?

6.1. Expenditure on Education

According to Singh [54], there is a positive correlation between expenditure on education and development of economy. In Manipur, despite an increasing conflict in the last two to three decades, the development pace of education is quite appreciable, as depicted by the Tables 4 to 11. Also, the growth rate of education for women and rural areas of Manipur is relatively higher than that of national level. Its credit can be given to Manipuri society’s enthusiasm for better and higher education, and as for the hill communities, it was English education, especially the Christian Missionaries who enlightened them [2]. This aspiration of the people/society of Manipur for education is reflected by the level of per capita expenditure spent on education.

Table 12. Average Annual Expenditure per Student in 2007-08 (Rural + Urban)

From Table 12, we can see that the annual expenditure per student in Manipur in 2007-08 was much higher than the national level, stood at Rs 4372 compared to Rs 3058 of national level. Though the spending on technical education per student of the state was slightly lower than that of national level, the per capita expenditure spent on the rest of the courses/levels of education was found to be above the national level, almost double of the national level. This implies that the parent or Manipuri society gives more emphasis on education and the statement is supported by Table 13.

Table 13. Monthly per Capita Expenditure (in %) on Education (MPCE)

Also, from Table 13 one can find that the MPCE on education in the 55th National Sample Survey (NSS) round (1999-00) in Manipur in rural area was 3.76 per cent of the total expenditure spent by an individual compared to 1.93 per cent of all India level. While, in urban area of the state, the MPCE on education during the same period (same NSS round) was 6.49 per cent compared to 4.33 per cent of national level. With the passage of time, in 2007-08 (64th NSS round), the MPCE on education in rural areas of Manipur rose to 7.24 per cent against 3.7 per cent of all India level. In the case of urban area, during the same period, the MPCE on education in Manipur was 9.04 per cent compared to 7.11 per cent of all India level. This clearly shows that the emphasis on education in this tiny state is at the highest level. However, mere expenditure indicator is not sufficient to measure the outcome level of the sector; performance parameter is also needed to be looked into. For this purpose, as the development of rural areas is more important, using different parameters, quality of rural school children was evaluated between India and Manipur in Table 14.

Table 14. Performance of Rural School Children in 2009-10

From Table 14 we can observe that the quality of education and the performance of children in the school level of Manipur were much higher than that of national level. To mention a few, 51 per cent of Class V standard of Manipuri students (rural) can do basic arithmetic of division compared to the 38 per cent of all India level. In term of “subtraction” arithmetic for standard III and IV in rural areas of Manipur, 70 per cent and 84.4 per cent respectively can work it out. While, at the all India level, at the most 39 per cent and 59 per cent of standard III and IV children respectively could do the same. Similarly, the efficiency of identification of English letters at the primary level and knowledge of English subject for upper primary level were also found to be much higher for the Manipuri students than that of national level. Despite prolonged conflicts, the above evidences clearly reiterate that the superiority of Manipur over the national level in terms of educational standard and educational development in the recent past.

6.2. Impact of conflict on Education in Manipur:

Literature and evidences show that there is a negative effect of violent conflict on the human capital of individuals particularly among the children and women, due to their vulnerability [44]. Violent conflict, that is destructive, may affect the level and distribution of returns to education considerably. It results in deaths, injuries, disability and psychological trauma to a physical body; and have an adverse effect to economic and social well being apart from political instability [53]. But, in Manipur, as depicted above, the growth of education was not affected by the conflicts. How is that possible when the state was plagued with blockades and strikes for months and months? A preliminary result says that the students moved out of the State for study. For analysis of the statement, a total of fifty-two Manipuri students (who are studying in Bangalore) were interviewed and the results are given below.

Table 15. Reasons for Studying Outside the State of Manipur

Table 16. Courses Pursued by the Sample Manipuri Students in Bangalore

But, in Manipur, as depicted above, the growth of education was not affected by the conflicts. The mute question is: how is that possible when the state was plagued by blockades and strikes for months and months? To verify the statement, a total of fifty-two Manipuri students (who are studying in Bangalore) were interviewed and the results are given in Table 15. It is revealed that the law and order condition (conflicts) is the most important factor that pushes the students out of the State for their study. Though there are many factors which influenced the Manipuri people for going out of the State for their studies, thirty students out of the fifty-two (57.7 percent) revealed that the frequent violence and blockades disrupted their studies in Manipur, and compelled them to come out of the state for their study. When we look at the variables like, limited educational infrastructure and quality of teaching in the State, they are found to be unimportant factors on the student’s decision to come out of the State. Next to conflict, 15.4 per cent of respondents revealed that lack of educational infrastructure compelled them to come out of the state for their study. In the third position, 13.5 per cent of respondents revealed that low quality of higher education in the state is also a factor for their departure from Manipur. Also, Bangalore being relatively a peaceful city, climatically favourable and has cosmopolitan character, attracted majority of Manipuri students.

As for the courses opted by Manipuri students in Bangalore, Table 16 depicts that out of a total of fifty-two sample students interviewed, fifteen students each (28.8 percent each) were found to be studying in the school and the under graduate level. One argument in this context is, though there are some limitations for the courses of technical and PG courses, schooling and under graduate (General) level courses do not have such constraints in Manipur till date. Still, majority of the students are moving out of the state for the same courses (schooling and under graduate General). This further proves that the conflict and violence in Manipur is an important reason for students’ out-migration of the State for their studies. Though there are some social and cultural factors(6), Table 15 revealed that almost 58 per cent of the students are coming out of Manipur for their studies primarily due to law and order condition within the state.

6.3. Correlation between Conflict and Education in Manipur:

Table 17. Correlations between Conflict and Education in Manipur

When we analyse the correlationship between conflicts (which includes internal conflict, insurgency related conflicts and fatalities) and educational development of Manipur, one can find very weak or negligible relationship between the two in the state. With the help of twenty-one years projected data(7) on population, public expenditure on education, enrolment rate, and literacy rate and conflict fatalities, a statistical correlation (Pearson correlation) was worked out. It was found that there exists a positive correlation between literacy rate and public expenditure on education, enrolment rate in the State, but not with the conflict incidences.

Though it was not a very scientific in nature, Table 17 reflects some sort of relationship between insurgency related fatalities as proxy for conflict and other educational variables like public expenditure on education, enrolment rate and literacy rate as proxy for education in Manipur. From the Pearson correlation it was found that there was a high positive correlationships among the population and educational variables, and found to be statistically significant at 1 per cent. However, it was not so between educational variables and conflict or insurgency related fatalities in the state. It implies that the conflict within the state does not affect educational development, and if so, there may be very negligible.

7. Conclusion

Though the above analysis could not ascertain the exact causal relationship between the conflict and educational development, one thing is certain that in Manipur, conflict could not affect educational development initiatives. But, seeing the trend of global damages created by conflict and wars, it calls for an urgent initiative to resolve conflict in any society, including Manipur. Therefore, controlling or resolving conflict has become the need of the hour. Universal experiences have shown that a fruitful dialogue or negotiation often brings peace and it can often be materialised only when people (stakeholders) are well educated and believed in ethics and morality. Dialogue does not mean that one’s grievance or demand is tabled for negotiation and stick onto it. One should have an understanding of the others’ need and constraints. The root cause of the conflict should be understood before conflict resolution initiatives are taken up.

In Manipur, education has been growing at a faster rate than the national level. At the same time, the incidences of conflict have also reached its stalemate. Within the State, though the growth of higher education is slightly lower than the school education due to expensive private higher education and limited infrastructure for the same, the overall growth rate of education is very impressive. Nevertheless, from the analysis, it is clear that conflict and violence do not affect overall educational growth in the State, but it makes children to out-migrate for their studies. In nutshell, though conflict made education costlier for Manipuris the former did not retard growth/development of the latter. It implies that conflicts and violence disturbed educational environment in the State, but not the growth of it. Since the educational growth has been faster then that of conflict (as it has reached its stalemate) incidences and as per the Brahm’s inverted U shape conflict pyramid, Manipur is expected to return to normalcy and accelerate overall development initiatives very shortly.

If the necessary steps are not taken immediately, employment opportunity should be created for the educated youths those who have come backed from outside the State. Otherwise, these educated people or youths can be frustrated and many unwanted conflicts and violence may happen in the State, sooner or later. The same holds true for India as well. For which more emphasis is to be given to quality higher education and employment generation policies of the nation.


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1The newly formed independent India and its Government in New Delhi pressured the Kingof Manipur (Kangleipak, earlier name)to sign a merger agreement with India under very unusual circumstances. Maharajaor Kingsigned the documents on 21st September 1949 AD at Shillong without prior consideration and approval from elected members of the Manipur Assembly. On October 15, 1949 AD, Major General Rawal Amar announced the annexation of Manipur[more detail can be had from:].

2NER consists of eight states of India’s North Eastern Region – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

3135 days of economic blockades inMao-Imphal section of the National Highway No.39in 2011

4There are two National Highways. They are: NH 39 which connects Imphal with nearest rail head at Dimapur of Nagaland state and the other one is: NH 53 that connects Imphal with Assam’s southern district Cachar. Of the two, NH 39 is regularly operational and NH 53 is not. But both of them are passing through hill districts of the state, inhabited by different tribes of Manipur.

5People (aged 7 years and above) who can read and writein any language is considered as literate.

6There is a status quo in Manipuri society when sending children outside the state for study and there is a feeling that the children get exposed when they are out of the state.

7Survey ofthemost of these variables(population, conflict, expenditure on education, educational enrolment, literacy rate, etc.) doesnotconductyearly.

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