Dr. C. N. R.Rao, Dr. P.M. Bhargava and Prof. Krishna Kumar

All three engaged with Government in transforming India as a knowledge society, empowering the youth and bringing back new insights, new strengths to our education system.

It is funny but true that no one cares for any education theories nowadays! And mercifully there are a few academic education theorists in some universities but the ground level education enterprises are all driven by profit motives alone!

In New Delhi you have some theorists and they serve on some routine government committees! That is all, As for other teacher training colleges or schools, there is only one motive(no ideals whatever!) and that is how to get a degree and a job! And now, the states, with not enough funds, go for Para teachers at lower salaries and thus, education ideals are not what these academic theorists fantasise, child-centered education etc but only gimmicks to extract money from anxious parents or those driven by status symbols. Some elite schools everywhere have become status symbols for the local elites and that is all.

Luckily, now and then, as the Delhi High Court had decreed recently against interviews for LKG kids! Otherwise, there is no limit to the greed of Indians and no shame for Indians to cringe and get on with the world!

Yes, is it not a shame that even after 60 years of Freedom we Indians haven’t got our own education system or core values but go for only an education that gets a government job. Yes, the IAS and the sort of services still rank high in society, not the new India created by self-made IT entrepreneurs.

A recent article by Prof. Krishna Kumar, the retired professor of education at the Delhi University and now head of the NCERT provoked this editorial. As a competent academic he is at his best when he raises a number of critical issues in education theories. Education has to do a number of things but it doesn’t in our present times. Education has to give every child the empowerment to get freedoms from institutionalised subjugation, to Prof. Kumasr’s own expression which he deploys to give Gandhi’s role in satyagraha. Prof. Kumar quotes David Thoreau, the author of Civil Disobedience (1859) to drive home the point that Gandhi’s legacy for us.

In all these the vested interests have kept up their own spheres of activities and influences.
Of course it is no fault of anyone educator, more so Prof. Krishnakumar to construct beautiful theories and he does so beautifully in this instance also. The child’s role in constructing knowledge. Where his theories go deficient is that he, sitting in a high official capacity, fails to realise the ground level realities of the Indian society. Most Indian schools are poor in physical and other teaching infrastructure. The poor are getting a raw deal. The middle classes, both in big metropolitan cities as well as small towns, are now driven by a madness for the final exams to enter any one of the professional courses and get into high paying jobs or migrate at the first opportunity May be, in Delhi, there are a few dominant schools like Sanskrit where the rich and the powerful send their children for status symbolism.

As far as we know, that the best of Indian public schools are still catering to the CBSE or other exams and no one public school has an aim like the British counterparts to prepare leadership qualities.

What we know for sure is that schools or educators, including dedicated teachers don’t have any active interest in knowing the latest trends in education, no interest whatever in education theories or experiments.

Dr.C.N.R.Rao,72, who heads the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Council, says that our education methods tires our students whenever, that is too often, they are “made” to take so many tests, for IIT, IIMs and for a host of other entrance tests. By the time they “finish” their entrance exams exhausting and cumbersome” there is no interest left in the students to continue into the academic year”. The distinguished scientist puts:” Today’s youth is full of knowledge ,but shaky in fundamentals, a reason why they cannot invent new things. A technically strong person should have both a scholar and an innovator within” Quite true.

Unless they are “ordered” to subscribe to some journal or read some text books! The very society’s pervading corruption, our own Indian mindset of slavishness and mere survival as our life’s aim, in spite of all mumbo-jumbo of Indian ethos, makes Indians still as dependent upon foreign wisdom! Indians cant think for themselves. In India all wisdom dispensers are politicians in power. Retired government service in some honourific offices command enormous public appeal. Luckily, our Prime Minister had constituted any number of committees or advisory councils! Unless we break from this prevailing mindset, our education wont take us far!

So, we ask men like Prof. Kumar and other retired education theorists and others: what use we simply quote names like Gandhi and Tagore. At least Tagore’s education experiment lives, supported by the Central Government grants. As for Gandhi, it is a great pity his concept of basic education was buried by his own close disciples.
An education institution differs from any other enterprise. An education institution must always be first and foremost, a place for learning, for more humane interaction with the society outside. Let us reward such institutions with Padma awards, specially created for them, so that our education system and practices become a more nationally noticed pace-setting activity. For the greater good of the society.

Dr. P.M. Bhargava, vice-chairman, the PM’s high profile Sam Pitroda heading Knowledge Commission said the other day in Hyderabad at the 93rd Science Congress:” To create a truly knowledge society, we should have an active civil society, education should not be based on money and our scientists and those in power must interact with society that what is happening”. This was also the theme of the Nobel Scientist, Richard Ernst said at the Congress. Educators must stress values, our scientists must have a more meaningful interaction with the larger society.

Also, we see that Gandhi is quoted more frequently that Tagore in education matters. And yet, Gandhi’s insistence on manual labour has no takers anywhere in the world.
Lately, we see more talk of child-centered education. Who doesn’t want this? But where it is practiced? Why quote Gandhi and Tagore and bring in girl child and rural girls? The educators in Delhi where the government patronage comes to them for the asking, are all bogus and we have only created a more divisive education goals, one system for the rich and other for the poor.

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