Guwahati: In a shocking turn of events, three senior officers from the Manipur Education Department, suspended on January 12, have issued written apologies for their alleged involvement in irregularities related to the issuance of no-objection certificates (NOCs) to schools in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts seeking CBSE affiliation, officials disclosed on Monday, February 5.
The suspended officers, including two zonal education officers and a deputy inspector of schools, cited “pressure” from elected Kuki representatives, Kuki civil society organisations, and student bodies as the driving force behind their actions without the permission of the state government. Sources reveal that four MLAs from Churachandpur and two from Kangpokpi districts directed these officers to issue the NOCs, aligning with the demands of the 10 Kuki-Zo legislators advocating for a separate administration for the tribals in the wake of ethnic riots in Manipur on May 3 last year.
The repercussions of these unauthorised actions unfolded when the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) cancelled the affiliation of 25 schools in the districts on December 20, 2023, as the suspicious schools obtained necessary NOCs from the state government illegally.
Notably, the cancellation shed light on the proliferation of fake schools allegedly affiliated with CBSE in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts following the ethnic violence in May 2023. A self-proclaimed leader of the Kuki-Zo community had claimed on social media on December 14, 2023, that numerous educational institutions in both districts were affiliated with CBSE. This revelation prompted questions about how these schools managed to secure CBSE affiliation during a period of unrest in Manipur.
After a preliminary investigation, the state government clarified in a press release that no NOCs had been issued for the mentioned educational institutions’ affiliation with CBSE since May 2023. According to the School Affiliation Re-Engineered Automation System (SARA 4.0) of CBSE, as of December 18, 2023, Manipur has a total of 107 CBSE-affiliated schools, with Imphal West district leading with 41, followed by 19 in Churachandpur and 16 in Kangpokpi districts.
The affiliation bylaws of CBSE explicitly state that the state government must provide a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to proceed with the affiliation process. The simultaneous affiliation of over 20 private schools in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi, allegedly backed by Christian missionaries, raised eyebrows, given the stringent affiliation process in place.
Responding swiftly, the Education Minister of Manipur, Th Bashanta Singh, and Commissioner of Education (S), Gyan Prakash, rushed to New Delhi to investigate the alleged affiliation scam. In a surprising move, CBSE disaffiliated the 25 schools from Churachandpur and Kangpokpi approximately seven days after granting affiliation. The disaffiliated schools’ names are now available on the CBSE website.
In a statement on December 20, the state government revealed, “The Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi, has withdrawn the affiliation granted to the schools in Churachandpur district of Manipur, with immediate effect, citing that the NOC submitted by these schools has not been issued by the authorised functionaries of the State Government and for cancellation of affiliation as requested by the State Government.”
This unfolding scandal highlights the need for a comprehensive investigation into the systemic issues surrounding CBSE affiliations in Manipur and calls for accountability among education officials and elected representatives involved in such irregularities. The state government’s prompt actions and CBSE’s decisive measures emphasise the importance of upholding the integrity of the education system in the face of unethical practices.