Revamp the education system
Education is the gateway to life. It plays a dominant role in transforming the lives of persons. The thoughts, approaches and world views get shaped in schools and colleges. Hence the education system is critical to the destiny of nations.
India was known for her high quality of education since the ancient times. The nation remained a source of abundant wisdom, torch bearer of knowledge, pioneer in diverse fields and builder of institutions that enabled people to lead purposeful lives. All these were possible due to the superior system of knowledge sharing that existed during those times.
The entry of the alien forces and their subsequent domination of the country created difficulties to the well-functioning educational systems. The introduction of the Macaulay method of education during the 1830s led to large scale destruction of the native systems. The educational system subsequently got completely westernized over the years.
The modern system is largely artificial and makes very little effort to educate the child. The ‘man- making education’ that Swami Vivekananda advocated is almost absent in the contemporary system. Value based education remains neglected, in spite of its emphasis by the higher judiciary and committees appointed by the governments.
The first ever survey among school children carried out by the International Forum for India’s Heritage revealed that the higher the classes, the lesser was their happiness with the contents of education, teaching, examination and the whole system. Moreover, not many of them felt that education promoted an all-round growth. Their requirements were different. 91 per cent of them however, noted that they would be benefited by the induction and teaching of Indian culture in the school curriculum.
Every country takes serious efforts to teach its true history. But unfortunately the Indian children are deprived of learning it and as a result know very little about the glory and greatness of the nation which inspired the rest of the world for several centuries since the earliest periods. They also do not know much about the difficult periods in the history of the nation, the untold suffering faced by their forefathers and the sacrifices of their valiant heroes.
They are not exposed to their surroundings. They find it difficult to apply the concepts that they study to their lives. Education has become mere pass ports for students to get jobs and earn money. Very little is taught to train the minds of children in the most productive and creative of ways.
The situation in higher education is equally disturbing. In most of the areas, there is nothing original. The courses and the text books almost totally depend on the western concepts and theories. Books written by the foreign authors are a compulsory part of the process and the universities feel that only such books are best suited for the Indian conditions.
We produce millions of educated people who know little about the country and her contributions to the development of knowledge systems over the centuries. We have economic professors who have never even seen the Arthashashtra, the first book on economics in the world, occupying university positions; physicians who have little knowledge about the contributions of Shushruta, the first surgeon in the world and mathematic teachers who do not know much about Aryabhatta or the origin of numbers. The level of illiteracy is more when it comes to the specialized subjects. How many of our educated people are aware that there is abundant material with us in fields such as logic, phonetics, architecture and metallurgy?
Higher education does very little to open the eyes of students to see what is happening in front of them. As a result the economic students get their degrees without even realizing that the driving force of the Indian economy is their own family systems, traditions and culture. Instead they are taught to belittle and curse the very foundations that sustain them.
Students spend most of their time discussing theories that are either redundant or have very little relevance. The western concepts and theories are based on their backgrounds, belief systems and experiences. Many of the modern theories in fields such as economics and management that are discussed in class rooms have already failed to provide results even in their places of birth.
We are producing graduates who are mere imitations of the system. They lack the capacity to relate to things. In the name of modern education, the natural abilities of millions of youngsters are being butchered in class rooms. The students getting out of institutions are made to feel like orphans.
Even during the early twentieth century, Ananda Coomaraswamy described the impact of British education on Indians: “It is hard to realize how completely the continuity of Indian life has been severed. A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprived of all roots – a sort of intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or the West, the past or the future. The greatest danger for India is the loss of her spiritual integrity. Of all Indian problems the educational is the most difficult and most tragic.”
India has been rising as a power. Her strong fundamentals are being recognized all over the world. All predictions point to a better economic future. In spite of the wrong approaches and poor understanding by the educated sections, the country is progressing.
In this connection, we have to take immediate steps to revamp the educational system. There are many issues that require immediate attention. We require young people with higher value systems, commitment, confidence, sense of responsibility and patriotism. We need people with originality, creative abilities, entrepreneurship and empathy.
We need leaders and visionaries who can direct the destiny of this great nation along the right path. The education should nurture the inborn talents and finer qualities of the younger generation. It should enable them to identify their inherent strengths and bring the best out of them. It should make them the best human beings, contributing to the all-round development of their surroundings and the nation.
To make it happen, a complete revamping of the education system is required. Mere cosmetic changes are not enough. Almost a century earlier, Sri Aurobindo advocated national education. He said: “… the full soul rich with the inheritance of the past, the widening gains of the present, and the large potentiality of the past, can come only by a system of National Education. It cannot come by any extension or imitation of the system of the existing universities with its radically false principles, its vicious and mechanical methods, its dead-alive routine tradition and its narrow and sightless spirit. Only a new spirit and a new body born from the heart of the Nation and full of the light and hope of its resurgence can create it ……”
The western countries have been facing serious crisis in spite of their advancements in science and technology. Their lives at the personal, family and social levels are in turmoil. With all their ‘modern’ economic theories, many of which fetched Nobel prizes, they have not understood even the most basic lessons in economics.
India needs new systems, new courses, new theories, new text books and new approaches. The nation has to make a firm decision to revamp the existing system, as we have already lost more than six precious decades. Contemporary developments clearly prove that India has all the required fundamentals to create her own destiny without looking at others. Hence we have to begin the process in education and set the stage for a new India.
1. Ananda Coomaraswamy, The Dance of Siva: Fourteen Indian Essays, The Sunwise Turn, New York, 1918
2. Michel Danino, Survey on Cultural Content in School Education, International Forum for India’s Heritage (Submitted to Govt. of India), 2005
3. Sri Aurobindo, Message on National Education, 1918 quoted in Out of the Ruins of the West …. India’s Rebirth, Mira Aditi, Mysore, 1993
( Yuva Bharati, Vol.40, No.11, Vivekananda Kendra, Chennai, June 2013)