Yes, that makes for elite education in Delhi!

Our School Curriculum must be raised to international standards.

Reading India’s English language papers, we mean at least some of the widely read ones by the elite, could be quite disheartening!

Delhi society, the very core of the power wielders, seems very brutal and ruthless when it comes to some basic values. In the good old days, people shared some common thought types and common value base. Now? “Fugitives run education empires, the synonym of brotherhood in Delhi, all the top lawyers fawn over him to gain admission into the institutions.” All competitive pressures, not silly principles that matters in elite education! As seen in Delhi! Says this one top columnist!

There are any numbers of issues in education. One is how a nation is looked upon its value system. How we want the outside world to respect us, judge us. But if you read the newspapers and the articles on education and society, you would be bombarded with the high society’s spoilt children, who went to Doon Schools, Bishop Cotton Schools in Shimla and St Stephens(one such is implicated in the Noida serial killings) who are turning the Indian elite society into one of horrors!

Education matters? Or, it doesn’t matter? Experts and onion makers, please answer! Given these basic self- doubts, it looks our average man on the street is still ,after 60 years of Freedom, is still diffident, yes, polite but so unconfident, so uncertain and so willing to listen, rather than pro-offer his own any points of view, be it politics or society or morals.

So, who shapes education policy? Not the academic or bureaucratic hacks! It is the rich and the powerful, rather the spoilt society, those who make the big bucks on the stock exchange or through politics and then come back to dictate our values and belief systems! So, education is a captive or victim of the bad political culture we witness? It looks like that!

A country’s education system matters a great deal in shaping the average personality of its citizens. Is this a right view? We hope so.

Our present education system, even in independent India, had undergone, no doubt, a great deal of change. But has the education system created a citizenry that is endowed with lot of positive and optimistic and hopeful future for the younger generation? We need reactions and feedback from our professional educators. We just look at the subject from the point of view of a larger picture of the country’s ethos and tone of living.

There is too much of deference to the past beliefs. There is still too much of fixed organized religions, religious bodies that set up and run schools and the dominant motive here, it seems to be, is to make the youngsters recite some select slogas, verses from religious texts, under one pretext or other and therefore indirectly to propagate their respective religious beliefs. We believe that the time has come to make our school education an all India level strong secular belief system-based.

What we mean by this?

In advanced countries, UK, France in particular we see the secularization process having taken strong roots. In UK even the Protestantism is almost gone out of the school gates. No one simply bothers to think of religion. Even the once-reputed great Public Schools are now losing their cutting edge reputation, though history of these institutions still brings some glamour from the high society.

Yes, the class character of any society determines the class nature of expensive and old schools. In Bangalore, we now have so many international schools with expensive infrastructure. But with all the fuss, these are still good middle class, that is the new middle class of IT sector high earning parents who are humored with!

But education in the strict sense is still a class and status-driven pursuit for the old families, the well-off traditional families. So, any theory of education has to make room for the class and status structure obtaining in any society! Now, the more important question is that secularization has to be carefully built into any of our national level curriculum. Then comes the question of the contents.

There is a fuss now on the French lycees model in India, the International Baccalaureate certificate as the new fashion. Yes, the French school curriculum we have studied and personally observed in some detail. What is impressive about the lycees and how they differ from the UK secondary schools, is the fact the French take lot of pride in their great thinkers and writers like Rousseau and Voltaire. There is a strong emphasis on philosophy teaching in these lycees. There is a lot of emphasis on teaching how to write French in the grand style etc.

In the English schools of repute, we find the more brilliant boys are given a strong grounding in Latin and Greek. The youngsters can be seen in reciting long passages from Pericles speech or Plato’ dialogues! Latin teaching was to teach how to compose verses and prose writing.

Can we in India cite any such distinctive Indian vision?

No! It is time we teach a core philosophy, logic and ethics. Youngsters must be taught to argue a point of view. We must teach our youngsters what is write and wrong? What is morality? Ethics? Justice? There must be school debates that must be made part of the exam results. That way only we can create a self-confident and a more daring and rebellious spirits in the relevant age groups. Indians that is average Indians must stand up and show independent bent of mind.

Our long tradition of a submissive bureaucracy, under the British, then under our new rules who lately have become more illiterate and more brazen had almost killed the middle class mindset to be educated, cultured and independent. This independent mindset is critical for any nation to stand up more so today when the world is also seen going through so much tumult, so much immoralities, so much of injustices that are perpetuated by the imperialist powers.

India must find a new identity and this can be done only when our education system is updated and functions in a more open-minded manner. Our schools have become more like islands, closed door activities, more narrow minds and more narrow pursuits.

Knowledge divorced from truth and ethics, from reason and argument, is no knowledge. It is just memorization. Creative thinking, creative teaching and creative pursuits are the goals that make a man, a true man. Our ethics must give us moral anger, moral courage and moral indignation when we see the so many injustices and inequities and so much apathy and corruption.

In the old times we were talking of a minimum period of compulsory national service. In the new time, we have to talk of every school leaver or job seeker must put in his or her application a minimum number of public service activities he or she did just to qualify to get a government job!

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