Or a life in the wilderness?Yes, education today has become a consumer product and services. Everyone seeks education, the poor as well as the not so poor. Each segment of the society has its own views, its own priorities for seeking education. So, education has no core meaning, it had lost all meanings.

For the poor it is an attempt to escape from poverty. For the middle classes, the lower to the not so lower middle classes, the white and the blue collar workers, yes in the India of the present times, it is the seeking of work, manual and the not so manual is the only task of any education.

The pity is that even the so-called professional education, the engineers and the MBAs and the more humble routine B.A.s and M.A.s are all seeking only this manual cum desk sitting jobs.

This type of education as a meaningless (or meaningful?)concept is more prevalent in a largely commercial and industrial town like Coimbatore where the first and even the second generation industrialists are all largely uneducated or partially educated.

So, there is a sense in which an individual like Rayappan who had spent all his life in education as a teacher and as a headmaster is a rarity. Most headmasters work all time and then fade away into anonymity. So, this headmaster is a sort of exception. He had kept his soul above the mundane living. He had built an enviable circle of devoted students and they have all taken up, it seems his legacy. So, this is the legacy for which, it can be rightly said, he had been recognised by the government. In a desert land, this role model is a flower, a desert flower, cactus and whatever.
He had cultivated a taste for education in its true core sense. Any good education concept must expand and cover the wider, meaning of culture, literature, poetry and a sense of involvement in the larger moral fabric of society.

This rare individual, so self-effusive and shy of publicity is a doer of sorts, in what be believes. He still lives in his remote village, on his farm and in a sort of way; Tolstoy-like engaged in farming for whatever it is worth these days! He engages himself in his community, does the minimum good and what else you can expect in a society that is largely driven by material pursuits, even in education and politics, it is money and more money.

So, the education of today contains in itself a large dose of bogusness, so many fake activities go in the name of education, teachers with bogus degrees, more D.Litts than PhDs! More M.A.s to one’ names these days, the more one remains unconcerned of knowledge. It is rare to see teachers reading even The Hindu newspaper!

So, what chance they read any good books, if at all? No chance!

So, school education in India is becoming unorganised. At least in the 400 odd districts of India we have to identify a minimum number of headmasters.

Reading habits have to be fostered among the younger generation, libraries have to be opened, and the young minds have to be exposed to the emerging new world, one of globalised world.
In fact, a sense of a new patriotism has to be instilled, so that youngsters don’t need to hanker for a life, more of degradation for one’s sense of self wroth to migrate abroad for a living. Only those who had undergone at the hands of the US immigration would know how much indignity they cast on you when they ask you to prove your loyalty to the new land and your proof of disloyalty to your own country of birth and upbringing.

Education in today’s India must become an education in a new, more alert patriotism, a love for the world.

K.A.Rayappan is a rare kind of a teacher and a headmaster.His winning the National Best Teacher Award is fully deserved for he had through selfless dedication to his duties risen to the headship of a higher Secondary School in Coimbatore against all odds.

Among the many distinctions his school had was the reputation it enjoyed at one time when his own teacher, the late R.Thiruvenkatasamy Naidue was the Headmaster, It was time of the titans, the Headmasters were in those days. Under Naidue Rayappan’s school, the Khadri Mills School was looked upon as a model institution. The education department under these two, the teacher and his pupil, Rayappan has also produced a vast network of his students who are all in senior positions in various education institutions in the district and outside.

The education dept would refer to Rayappan’s school’s various correspondences and advise other schools to follow the model in replying to dept letters and queries.
Rayappan comes from a rural background, from a respectable farming family and he had not known any world outside his own school’s geography. Such was his total dedication. So, he had been amply recognised by the Award from the President of India.

Coimbatore district is known for its industrial advancement. The vast number of textile mills of the district is what made the district so advanced. Yes, Coimbatore is an industrial centre. It is also an educational centre, thanks to the industrialists setting up the first schools, colleges and the reputed engineering colleges. Some engineering colleges are more than 75 years.

Yet for all these advancements the city remains a cultural backwater! You don’t find the vast awareness of people for education values or cultural or literary activities. What you can find in district centres like Salem or Trichy, you can’t find the same environment in Coimbatore. Even the educated have no sense of culture. Their idea of culture is certain bogus spiritualism! Some superficial talks on religious activities, building temples or conducting temple ceremonies. In Coimbatore city there are some of the oldest schools and colleges but the level of cultural and literary awareness is rather very low.

In this rather barren cultural landscape you don’t find the fuller impact of an educated people caring for the finer aspects of life. No music thrives, except in some isolated pockets of Brahmin clusters or again some superficial patronage by the industrialists.

Anyway, the district had created an environment for vast enterprises; the century old Agriculture University is one such rare institution. But any society becomes culturally rich only patronising the “lost causes”, right?

Even a city like Madurai ha s a rich literary tradition, so too Tanjavur and other towns like Tirunelveli or Nagarcoil.

It is the artists, writers, poets and others like journalists who make upon the cultural milieu.
Anyway, such thoughts come up when we honour a dedicated teacher like Rayappan. In his own way he had been an ardent lover of literature and he cares for some of the lost causes, thanks to his proximity with some unusual personalities whom he can claim as his friends and admirers. So, after all he had lived his life in such isolation as some others find themselves in a noisy and boisterous city like Coimbatore!

– V.ISVARMURTI

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