Education- the a key to empowerment for everyone

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education which was celebrated under the theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education” this year.

Macaulay of the British Raj introduced the English education system in India. The aim of the British education was to get clerks for their offices, to help in various administrative services and propagate the English culture which was suitable for the colonial rulers.The English education system deprived the Indian masses and produced an elite group among Indians themselves.This division of the society created the further alienation among various groups of Indians who were already divided on the basis of various castes and religion.

Gandhi emphasised that the medium of instruction should be the mother tongue of all children. RabindranathTagore pointed out that when Indians receive their education through their mother tongue the process of education would be as natural as the process of eating food- digestion starts as soon as food goes into the mouth.

Tagore had often said that the responsibility of education is to see that the growth of the body and mind take place in a balanced manner. The main purpose of education is not only to improve our knowledge but also to develop the ability of the body and the mind to express it to the fullest in any situation to deal with the problems faced in day-to-day life.

BR Ambedkar, the main architect of the Indian constitution, gave prime importance to education. He understood well with his experience and gave his key message of “educate, organise and agitate’’ to the masses.The basic theme of his philosophy of education is to inculcate the values of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice to all citizens. It is education which will enlighten the human beings and fulfill the dream of every Indian.

Uttarakhand, particularly Dehradun is a leading centre for education and learning in India. In fact it has been a learning center from the time of Mahabharat which is why it is also known as Dronanagari. Uttarakhand has many institutions starting from schools to universities giving both primary and higher education. A few of them are The Doon School and Welhams School, FRI Dehradun, IMA Dehradun, IITRoorkee, AIIMS Rishikesh, LBSNAA (IAS academy) in Mussoorie etc. Uttarakhand has eight institutions of national importance, 31 universities (three deemed, 12 government, 16 private), six medical colleges, 12 Ayurveda colleges, 38 para medical colleges, 38 nursing colleges ( 14 government, 24 private), 40 degree colleges and hundreds of schools. Are all of them really fulfilling the purpose which they are supposed to?

Schools in Uttarakhand are affiliated to CBSE, CISCE and UBSE. According to the 2011 census, Uttarakhand had a literacy rate of 80 pre cent. However the status of primary education is so dismal that five per cent of class III students cannot identify the numbers 1-9 and 20 per cent of them cannot do subtraction, according to a government report.Another instance of irregularity recently reported in higher education in the media last week showed that a private BEd college was functioning from a three-room house for the last 10 years in Uttarkashi. It is worth pondering whether this is a failure of students, teachers or the government.

The goal of primary education should be to enable children to read, write, speak, calculate and express their feelings and experience through their eyes, hands and other parts of body. In our view, to improve the quality of education, there is a need for good quality teachers. They should not only be good in teaching, transferring knowledge and skill but should also possess quality and behave like responsible guardians of the students. If the situation arises, the teachers should counsel the children and the parents as well.

The quality of work depends upon the quality of the worker. Similarly, the quality of education depends upon the quality of the teacher. American educationist Horace Mann rightly said that ”A former is worth a thousand reformers”. The goal of education must be to develop the interest of the child in reading, writing and learning.The goal of learning should be to Do it Right at First Time (DRAFT) because repair and redo is a costly affair. In our view nothing in the market should be substandard be it material or man power.

What makes a great teacher is the ability of the teacher to help the students learn for himself. For that the motto of the policy makers should be to have not only good quality schools for the children but also good quality schools for training the teachers. It is suggested that the main thrust should be given to improve the quality of primary education and primary education should ideally be given in mother tongue irrespective of the type and place of school.

A Chinese poet of the Sung dynasty had observed that one of the three most wasteful and disturbing things in the world is to witness poorly educated youth. Another study published in the journal Nature revealed that 52 per cent of IQ depends upon education and environment. Education plays the most important role in shaping the life of any individual. Education transforms a person to live a better life in almost all spheres of life. It is a fundamental requirement for employment. Employment gives a person financial independence. Money is an important resource to acquire anything in life and money can be earned only by those who are physically and mentally able. It is education which broadens our horizon. In fact education is the key factor leading to empowerment. We hope if our new education policy is implemented honestly, it will change the whole scenario of education in our country.

(Padma Shri recipient Dr BKS Sanjay is a senior orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Gaurav Sanjay is an orthopaedic surgeon. Views expressed are personal)

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