Education in an uncertain world
Education for Enlightenment! Please understand one and all!
Yes, Indian education today is being driven by the sheer mindless market forces! Everyday, we are flooded with full-page newspaper ads claiming this or that targets of first rankers or other exams. But do you know the world outside? There is resistance for migration and asylum seekers in the West. Why, even inside, we see there are vacancies in the much-rated IITs!
A total of 18,138 candidates out of 1, 55,158, who appeared qualified the JEE Advanced this year. So, there are vacancies here at the IITs too! Abroad, USA, UK, why even in Europe there is resistance to migrants into their countries. Italy refused to take in a migrant ship carrying 600 migrants. So, the long waiting list of Green Card seekers in the USA and the long list of illegal migrant in the UK must send some signal in the Indian academic world. But alas! Indian educators, the education entrepreneurs live in blissful ignorance or unconcern! So, where does our generation of youngster, the original Macaulay children, is left with? No one has an answer or a clue. So, what is education for?
We say it is not for education to get you into another country. May be you would be left with only to live in this country. So, you, all, please realize, sooner or later, that education is not for jobs or migration. It is for your own Enlightenment! We have had some education histories and these were long time ago. We are not sure of what is being taught in the large number of teacher’s education colleges or among the university departments of education. Macaulay had chosen the English medium in 1834 and since then English language had come to dominate and the consequences are so serious today to drive much of education activities towards a mind-killing memorization and driving the students, bright Indian youngsters towards a soul-killing competitive exams, a series of competitive exams that had replaced any learning as such.
Today, the newspapers, almost everyday, round the year, we see carrying so vulgar a scenario with the first two pages, why even four pages ads on full-page basis proclaiming all sorts of nonsense as education courses.
In the 18th century England, there arose an industrial and social and class differentiation that Matthew Arnold (Culture and Anarchy) called the new classes emerging: Philistine, Barbarians and the Populace. A similar situation is now emerging in the Indian educated classes. We can call them here by the very same epithets. Are we not creating a new class of Indian barbarians among the so-called educated? The whole lot of people who benefit by the various dubious education courses from universities offering open-university degrees whose worth you have to check for yourself.
Everyone is cheating himself or herself with those degrees. And alas! The universities running such rackets whose actual activities have come out in the open and no one cares to correct the aberrations in the name of open-university degree courses. The most corrupt practices, the universities give affiliation and collects hefty fees and the colleges; most of them very third rate, in turn collect hefty fees and sign the degrees on paper.
This is called Open University degrees! Some universities in the South, we know for sure in Tamil Nadu which have open, or permitted to be opened in some 500 centres from all over India! A remote small town university had in fact indulged and what this seems to be the pattern elsewhere and this racket had now been stopped we learn, but we are not sure; till a new Governor, the Constitutional head of a university, has come and had stopped this racket by showing some active interest in the University administration. But the arrest of three Vice-Chancellors for corruption of this nature had been reported! The point here is that we in India had been witness to some blatant negligence of education as a serious and dedicated area of public service.
Unfortunately, we have perpetuated the old-style Macaulay, clerical education that is the worthlessness of education as a way to life, jobs and various skills, not learnt in the proper sense. Today, under the Narendra Modi regime, we haven’t improved in our opinion, even one percent in education reform. In a recent ‘substantial’ interview the current holder of the portfolio, the hon’ble Prakash Javadekar (The Hindu, June 13) the minister says about many things. But most of the questions and answers seem to us as not substantial but superficial, surface questions like the expansion of unregulated engineering colleges, deemed universities and autonomous colleges.
The only news is that this BJP government had allocated 4% of the budget for education. Hardly this is news. May be he must have done some calculations how much money is collected by the new money-making class or the new class of Philistines and Barbarians and the Populace class, the unsuspected new class of education seekers. The new class of education seekers is of course helpless, so we can’t blame them, they might take this is the only way to escape from poverty and backwardness.
It is the new middle class that has come to corner much of the government jobs under various quotas and their only hope is to migrate at the first opportunity to the US shores or other countries where they are given an asylum. In UK alone there are reportedly some 3 lakh and odd illegal refugee Indians! All highly qualified. Is this the education we Indians feel proud to promote here? Is this the goal of education providers, in all these full-page advertisers?
In the teaching and coaching, tuition industry we have some of the biggest corporate names too! To that extent those corporate entities have to hang their heads in shame. Of course, we can see some bright lights in the form of Private Universities. We don’t know yet their real genuineness. We are sure that given the poor foundations on which these Universities have come to be established there can’t be any deeper foundations. They are in the state’s Higher Education Councils. One such is there on the Marina Beach in Chennai. You have to go into the premises to find out how ‘bogus’ the functioning of such bodies.
In conclusion, we would only say that we have to go back in history that our whole ideas of higher education have to start with Greece and Rome and come down to the later ages. Perhaps the European Enlightenment, the French Revolution, later-day developments to the establishment and fulfillment of the British Empire and the whole history of British education based on the Greek and Roman classics, the study of Greek and Latin languages and the Greek and Roman institutions of Athens and Rome, democracy, freedom and ethics and truth, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, down the ages we come to what we have to really call the Westernization of knowledge. This is a tough territory to go into. But we have to go into this tough territory and recast our idea of education, pursuit of truth and ethics in our public life.
We have to teach history, politics and Parliamentary history to give a rounded liberal education. There is no other alternative way in education. Please learn to digest the genuineness of this history. Someone has to bell the ‘cat’! Who can do it is a question that can’t be answered here!