Not that easy and simple
As the government seems to be imagining
There are many serious issues. India has to build an education legacy. We have to understand India’s past history. We have to understand the present day challenges, inside and outside the world. We have to care for India’s past, present and the future. We have to have a vision, ideas about the future.
There is news that the National Education Policy (NEP) is likely to be out by end of February and the bureaucrats (Yes, they are all bureaucrats, no one an educationist, or an intellectual) are asking to tour the country, to meet the people of the states. No one knows whom they would meet or what ideas they have floated or any public discussion or consultation with experts or any such things.
It looks like a closed-door affair of obliging bureaucrats. Who would be giving what the government wants. Neither the otherwise vociferous HRD minister is telling us. No interviews or brain-storming sessions or some other ways of knowing beforehand on a subject like education. Education is a serious business. It shapes persons and peoples, defines the times we live in, right?
We live at a time when the Indian youth is the largest migrating community today, you know? So, what kind of education you propose when the high-cost IIT, IIM educated are only dreaming of leaving the Indian shores at the first opportunity? These are serious questions. Education has to address such sensitive and strategic issues also. The present scene in education seems to us like some new found wisdom is likely to dawn upon the country men in on flash-like manner. Some magic bullet is about to explode one fine morning.
Now, coming to the serious issues in education policy making and that too for a country like India with its past history. The history of the country stretched back to thousands of years from the 350 years of colonialism, we like to say the following few things for whatever they are worth. First, we, it is we still who have the baggage of the left-overs of a colonial legacy. We still basically have a clerical style learning of the basic literary that prepares us for the government jobs. It is strictly not correct but the dominant mindset in education institutions or in education administration is a sort of command system. ‘We give and you learn’.
Fortunately, there are already certain structural changes, of course. One or two major factors are the technological revolutions.
The Internet had made information flow freely. The related revolutions, the coming of the smart phones also had impacted literacy. There is a new aspirational revolution. The new generation of youngsters is looking out of the country. There is globalization and a steady migration of talented youth to the USA, UK, Australia and other countries.
As per the latest statistics, Indians are the largest migration group. So, there are many impacts on the Indian education scene. Now, we want to say this: Indian history had almost changed our psychological mindset. We suffer from the history’s handicaps, we have become servile, inferiority-complex oriented, obedience to authority whoever is in power is our second national trait.
We feel our education policy must help us to change this national trait.Otherwise, it is no education. What we must do then? We have to impart a national outlook, a new appreciation of Indian history. See India from the present perspective. How India can remain an independent country? How our present institutions remain strong and sustainable?
Can our Constitution remain embedded in the Indian National consciousness?
There is of course hope; things might work well, given the present mindset.Already the Indian Supreme Court ruled in favour of an independent judiciary.
So too we have to strengthen the democratic framework. Here our education must teach more and enlighten the young minds to ask for total transparency in the functioning of the electoral system, parties registration, party funding and also internal democracy within the parties.
So, we have to teach individual freedoms, citizen freedoms, right to privacy, right to freedom of expression and a whole anger of individual freedoms, including media freedoms. We have to teach Indian values, dharma and adherence to truth etc. We have to teach Greek and Roman thoughts, morality, ethics and democracy. Rule of Law as from the Roman history and also the current ideas of equality, reduction in the global inequalities we are witnessing. Indian education can’t anymore imitate the British or the American models. As it is there is the American dream! Students in waves want to migrate to the Yanky shores.
How many know that American society as unlike India in many aspects. The American gun ownership lobby is very strong. 50 lakh members are there in the American Rifle Association! Every day, a good number of people are killed, why even children get killed every day, at 2 in a day, by playing with their parents guns! America is a violent nation, American prison population is large, you know?
Indian values; we have to teach in an international context.
So, education syllabus has to have three components. State level prespectives. Language is a critical issue in education. At the local level, local language must prevail. In this context there is a national level. Here English has to prevail. India is a big country, world’s third largest nation, economy and power. So, we have to really have global perspective to Indian education.
We are now the largest contributor of medical doctors to UK and the USA and also maximum number of engineers to the USA. This trend would only continue and would impact our higher education planning. We have to be creative as well as pragmatic.
We have to succeed in the digital world; our Startup India Campaign of the Prime Minister is a good augury. Let us look forward and march ahead.