More than schooling

The purpose of education

More precisely, the perceived goal of education to make the individual and the society 'better' in some qualitative sense, seems to missing in its current form. In our rush to get everybody educated, we do not consider it important to ask ourselves why do we need education?

An idealist notion about the necessity of education has been taken for granted. If fact this notion has been so strongly developed that we are taught to overlook the shortcomings in the implementation of this activity. Both independent groups, who have chosen to work in the field of education, and expert committees have only suggested ways of improving the effectiveness of present education system without addressing themselves to the more basic issues of the purpose of the entire activity. Such people often choose to ignore the disturbing trends, mentioned above, associated with the education system.

Most of the people will refuse to link the malaise in the system to the basic nature of the system itself, considering it to be a disorder which could be taken care of by implementing a proper machinery. Such assumptions need to be questioned. In this article we will present an analysis of the present education system, which will raise questions at such basic levels. When so much resources and the prime time of our children and youth are being given over to the education system, we as a society need to find out the achievement of this system in real terms. However, in this evaluation one must be prepared to dispense with the assumption that the modern education system, or some close variant of it, is absolutely indispensable, for on close examination this kind of education system itself appears to be at fault. The present article will restrict itself to being a critique of the modern education system and will highlight its inadequacies. The solution in the form of a new concept of education derived from a newly established philosophy, Sah Astitwawad Darshan, of Nagaraj Sharma of Amarkantak, will be the subject of a future article. The concept of education based on this philosophy offers the possibility of establishment of a just human order.

Does education make individuals progressive?

Next let us come to the aspect of education which makes an individual progressive in some sense. The state always projects education as necessary for the progress of society when pushing its literacy programmes. People are made to believe through the state run media that education has the potential for providing solutions to a number of society's problems. There is so much brainwashing done that lot of educated people grow up with the illusion that they are more civilized in some sense that the illiterate people. It is not very difficult to detect the condescending attitude that the educated people develop towards the less educated or uneducated people.

However, when several groups of people, including school teachers and college students from Delhi, Kanpur and Ballia were questioned on exactly how they were advanced compared to people who did not get a chance to go to school, people were at a loss to come up with convincing answers. Because of education they had acquired the skills of reading and writing, but other people in the society possessed some other skills which were in no way less valuable. In fact, skills like farming, cloth making and house building, more basic to our living, the educated people were completely unfamiliar with. What is a part of living for most of the people in the country and where they spend a major part of their time is reduced in the form of mere commodities which the educated people learn to buy in the market in exchange for money earned as part of their salaries. This is probably a basic difference between the educated and uneducated people. However, whether this is a sign of progress has become a debatable issue now.

The educated people would readily agree that inspite of enjoying more material comforts they do not think that they have become any more happy than the uneducated people. Also, education does not make any person a better human being. The educated people are not any more sensitive or sympathetic towards other human beings. Neither are they any more honest or responsible. Education does not free a person of superstition or blind belief in hypothetical concepts of super natural powers. An educated person is seen to be as much of a fatalist as an uneducated one. People possessing highest degrees in sciences are seen to behave in highly irrational and inexplicable ways. A document published when the Kishore Bharati experiment was wound up, points out that scientific rational way of thinking evaporates when economic and political interests of the people come in their way. Hence upon an honest evaluation it turns out that qualitatively there is not much of a difference between the educated and the uneducated people.

Most of the people with whom it was discussed agreed with this conclusion. Then, in what way they thought they were more civilized left them thinking.

People agree that material advancement is not the only aspect of progress. In fact, it is the less important part of it. Most of the people were of the opinion that practice of human values, improvement on human relationships and a just order in society constituted real progress and those are the things they actually meant when using the notion of 'civilized' society. Unfortunately we have not moved ahead in that direction, and although the idea of education was conceived precisely for this purpose, we have so far not been able to develop the form of education, necessary to fulfil this objective. The modern education system is simply not designed to serve this purpose. All it does is only legitimizes material growth in the name of development. Modern science as an ideology, which has chosen to confine itself to only the study of matter, having gotten the support of the ruling classes, has exercised its hegemony through the modern education system to promote a material-centered thinking. This is reflected in the personal aspirations of a modern educated man as well as the development programmes of any modern state. However, that this is only a lop-sided view is reflected in the concerns of the people. Thus, the popular belief that education represents some kind of progress does not stand a deeper inquiry.
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