By Dr Jyotsna Bhattacharjee
The very term ‘Education’ takes my mind decades back, when education meant attending school, listening to the teacher’s instructions and obeying them, studying at home, doing home work and things like that. That’s what we did faithfully. But now it seems that the connotation of education has changed drastically. Now the temples of learning are not meant merely for attending classes and learning lessons, but they have also become places of intrigue, politics as well as education. Another noticeable thing is that the respect for teachers is no longer visible. Teachers are sometimes abused and even occasionally assaulted by the students. Once we adored some of our teachers and even if we did not like some of them, we dared not disobey them. There was also a kind of personal rapport between the teachers and the taught. But now that relationship is non-existent and there seems to be a communication gap between the teachers and the learners. The teachers do not even know the names of half of their students, and they may not recognize them outside the school campus. The students also avoid the teachers as far as possible. They look the other way if they see their teachers. It is a sad situation.
Till some years back education was regarded as a preserve of the privileged class. Hence in that age the children of the economically backward section never entered the portals of the schools. Their parents too thought that it was much better for the children to be engaged in some work to earn some money to help their respective families. They thought school-going to be a needless exercise and waste of time. But now most people have realized the value and fundamental necessity of universal elementary education.
At present more and more children from the economically backward section have started going to school. The government also have helped them with various schemes. Free education, free supply of text books, mid-day meal, and other welfare schemes have encouraged the parents to send the children to attend schools. Yet it is also true that there are some confusions in this basic issue. There have been countless number of proposals, suggestions, discussions regarding the importance of elementary education. But mere schemes are not enough, they also have to be sincerely implemented for getting good results.
Teachers are vitally connected with the education system and no scheme can be successful without their active cooperation. They should maintain the old adage of simple living and high thinking. But the modern teachers do not seem to follow the maxim. In earlier times the teachers were not well-paid, but they loved the job of teaching. They produced a large number of intellectuals, who made the country proud by their achievements. We still regard them with awe and respect, though those teachers remained unknown an unsung. Yet the teachers of that era should certainly get credit for giving the nation all those great men. Those teachers in the past did not care for money, power or fame. They just wanted to impart education and their satisfaction arose from the products they produced. Their life style was simple and they did not ever want to come to focus.
The teachers must be able to generate interest in the minds of their students for better performance. For that they must go beyond “chalk and talk”. For successful teaching-learning process there must be personal rapport between the teachers and the students. But such warm relation between the teacher and the taught is no longer visible. Most teachers do not seem to be much concerned regarding the welfare of the students. Such teachers cannot contribute much to the cause of education.
The consequences of inanity are obvious in education in all levels, whether in schools or colleges. In some of the educational institutions education has become more or less meaningless, expensive, harmful and frustrating and above all aimless. To undo the evil and cleanse the administrative system, what is needed is an efficient and competent person, who can provide appropriate and dynamic leadership. Hopefully under the leadership of such a person education will be able to achieve what it is meant for. Such kind of education will be able to provide knowledge to the pupils and it would also make everyone happy.
Education without quality and excellence is a meaningless exercise, which is not only redundant, but also a national wastage, for which humanity has to pay a very heavy price. Crores of money have been spent in the name of education, yet nothing worthwhile has been achieved. It seems that something is very wrong in the educational system. To undo the wrong, I suppose necessary steps have to be taken. Most important factor in an educational institute happens to be the teacher. I think that the teachers should be very sincere and hard-working besides being adequately qualified. The head of the institution should be able to provide dynamic and effective leadership. In the absence of desirable and operative administrators, in thousands of educational institutes in both urban and rural areas, the education today has become hopelessly sub-standard where utter indiscipline and chaos reign.
Unionism has also caused immense harm to the educational institutes, since it leads to parochial and partisan administration. Actually unionism brings only unpleasantness and disharmony. Then we can also see that the educational institutes enjoy too many unnecessary holidays, due to which the plans of activities remain incomplete, haphazard and often ignored. Plans seem to remain on papers only and nothing positive is done for their serious implementation. The serenity and the sanctity of the teaching-learning process has already been damaged by various demands and agitations, besides the frequently called Bandhs. It is a terrible pity that a noble branch of knowledge like education has fallen down from its pedestral due to ineffective administration.
As education changes with the changing pattern of society, it has become necessary for the administrative authority to change its policy and strategy to make it suitable to achieve success. Therefore education needs leadership of the right kind, which can enable it to strive for the advancement of all, irrespective of caste, colour or creed. For a successful teaching-learning process a team spirit is very necessary and it can be achieved only under an efficient administration.
In a congenial atmosphere the sincere and competent teachers can make miracles in the field of education. Discipline should be strictly maintained even in the face of the most difficult and challenging situation. Indiscipline has created chaos in many institutions and in this age of conflicts and agitations, discipline at all cost must be maintained.
Education depends on the administration for a healthy atmosphere. If education and administration do not go hand in hand the purpose of education becomes jeopardized. Certain factors need to be considered for the success of education. Resource and funds should be favourable for planning and coordination. It is very necessary to check that the allotted funds are used for the right purpose.
Sometimes there may be some unpleasantness between the teachers and the students. The major issues and problems need to be negotiated with sincerity. There is no issue which cannot be solved with an attitude of “give and take”. It cannot be denied that procrastination, evasiveness and inaction are the fundamental reasons of failure in the education system. The teachers should use the method of balanced teaching—like asking questions, suggesting possible answers, checking with the students if they seem to have understood what has been taught. It is a time-consuming exercise, but very rewarding. The teachers, guardians, students and everyone connected directly or indirectly with education should be happy with this kind of teaching-learning process.
Today we see an alarming and continued erosion of values in almost every sphere of life. For a very long time education has been viewed as a key to knowledge. It is supposed to enlighten the learner regarding the higher values of life. But now it has been commercialized. Now education has been re-oriented to make common people aware of the benefits of education. The currently popular notion of a “good” student is of one, who has demonstrated his potential to generate private wealth than of one, who is thoughtful, critical and imaginative. The brightest student is not a book worm lost amidst the library racks, but one who is neatly dressed and sophisticated, looking like a corporate manager, with typical mannerism.
The purpose of education is to gain knowledge and cultivate values. It is essential that the students are taught the values of life, so that they can grow up to be the noble and worthy citizens of the country. Only with cooperation, devotion and dedication, education can be successful and effective. As William Ralph Inge said in “The Training of the Reason” that, “The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values”. So that is the meaning of education.