By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
The very term ‘education’ takes me decades back, when education meant attending school, listening to the teacher’s instructions and obeying them and studying at home, doing home work and things like that. 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 studying, but they have also become places of intrigue, politics as well as agitations. Another noticeable thing is that the respect for teachers is no longer visible. 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 persol rapport between the teachers and the taught. But now that relationship is no longer seen and there seems to be a communication gap between the teachers and the learners. The teachers do not even know the mes of half of their students, and they may not recognize them if they see 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 somewhere else. 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. Hence little children were compelled to work in dhabas, road-side tea stalls, garages, construction sites and in various other places. Some were engaged as domestic servants and the children had to work hard from morning till night for a meagre salary and for a bowl of coarse rice. In spite of all that back-breaking work they never had a kind word from the master or from the lady of the house. For any minor offence they were beaten black and blue. They could not protest for fear. Some of them did run away from cruelty, only to fall into fire from the frying pan. Those little children suffered untold misery due to their poverty and they were denied their right to education.
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 has helped them with various schemes. Free education, free supply of text books, mid-day meal, ban on child labour and other welfare schemes have encouraged the children to attend schools. Yet it is also true that there is some confusion in this basic issue. There has been countless number of proposals, suggestions and discussions regarding the importance of elementary education. But mere schemes are not enough; they also have to be sincerely implemented for getting good results. In such a situation it is only tural that the illiteracy of the masses has not been completely eradicated.
After a long time now the concerned authority seems to have recognized the fact that for the progress of the country the universal elementary education is not only necessary, but indispensable as well. But the recognition has come very late, since the country has reached the ultra-modern stage in history. India has made tremendous progress in science and technology. Science has made invaluable contributions to make life easy and comfortable. It has also been able to increase longevity of life. The country has succeeded in every aspect and has even been able to explore the mysteries of space, which was considered to be impossible till a few decades back. The country has advanced so magnificently in every sphere, that it can be said to be at par with the developed tions of the world. turally at a time when India has made enormous progress in science and technology, talking about mass illiteracy and the importance of universal elementary education seems to be rather primitive. Only now everybody seems to have realized that education is extremely necessary.
It is a recognized fact that education is the key to knowledge and without a proper system of education the country is doomed. Various experiments in education have been made from time to time. But nothing positive has emerged so far despite time and money spent on these speculations. It cannot be denied that the quality of education is not as good as it should be. Inity has gwed the entire education system and it can be seen clearly in every sphere of education. New schemes are coming up every now and then, but they have not done the slightest good to the process of education. Some of their arbitrary decisions may even hamper the smooth running of the educatiol institutes instead of doing good.
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 unfortutely the teachers of today are vastly different from their counterparts of the past. In the schools the students are taught lessons from the text books in a boring and mechanical way, which does not ignite even a spark of interest in the young minds. Dictating outdated notes to a roomful of bored students is a practice adopted by some of the teachers, since it is the easiest way to earn salary without exerting oneself. The same notes are dictated year after year to various batches of students year after year and turally the young students lose interest in attending the classes of such insincere teachers. This kind of teaching does not inspire the students and they do not get any valuable suggestions for improving their knowledge or performance.
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 persol rapport between the teachers and the students. It is tural for the students to obey those teachers whom they love. They want to please their adored teachers and hence are very attentive in the classes of those teachers. But unfortutely such warm relation and understanding between the teacher and the taught is no longer visible. The teachers remain unconcerned regarding their welfare of the students. Such teachers cannot do much to the cause of education.
The consequences of inity are obvious in education in all levels, whether in schools or in colleges. In some of the educatiol institutions education has become more or less meaningless, harmful, expensive, 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 dymic 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.
In today’s educatiol scerio it can be seen that young boys and girls with bright promises and possibilities while away their time and energy as well as resourcefulness without any regret. At present we see dull, mechanical and lifeless courses of studies imparted by bored teachers in an educatiol atmosphere that neither cares for learning nor for discipline or for the welfare of the students. Nobody seems to care for those unfortute learners who are floating like rudderless boats. They just swell the Street corners with inconsequential gossip and aimless activities. For any unscrupulous person it is very easy to misguide these immature young people and lead them to the wrong path, which may be disastrous for them. Most of the teachers do not seem to have the least interest in the students and the students also do not have any faith on their teachers. There is absolutely no communication between them. So it is obvious that such kinds of education do not do a mite of good to the students.
In fact, education without quality and excellence is a meaningless exercise, which is not only redundant, but also a tiol wastage, for which humanity has to pay a very heavy price. Crores have been spent in the me of education, yet nothing worthwhile has been achieved. That clearly demonstrates that something is very wrong in the educatiol system. To undo the wrong, I suppose necessary steps have to be taken. The most important factor in an educatiol 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 dymic and effective leadership. In the absence of desirable and operative administrators in thousands of educatiol institutes in both urban and rural areas, education today has become hopelessly sub-standard where indiscipline and chaos reign.
Unionism has also caused immense harm to the educatiol institutes, since it leads to parochial and partisan administration. Actually unionism brings only unpleasantness and disharmony. Then we can also see that the educatiol 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 have 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 pedestal due to misguided and 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 eble 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. The welfare of an educatiol institute and the students depend largely on the head of the institution, who should be wise, devoted and a worthy leader. Discipline should be strictly maintained even in the face of the most difficult and challenging situations. Indiscipline has created chaos in many institutions and in this age of conflicts and agitations, discipline at all cost must be maintained.
A lackadaisical and irresponsible head of an institution actually vitiates the teaching-learning atmosphere and the institute turns into a haven of troublemakers. For the progress of an educatiol institution it is essential to chalk out plans for its development and there must be cooperation amongst all the people. Only then the desired excellence in education may be achieved. Sincere attempts must be made to solve diverse problems faced by the teachers and the students to bring about a congenial and healthy educatiol atmosphere.
Education in a way 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 coordition. We often hear that money allotted for the implementation some scheme is diverted to other channel. If it is true then it is rather unfortute for the cause of education. Hence it is very necessary to check that the allotted funds are used for the right purpose. I suppose that the heads of various institutes can do that.
An ideal head of the institute advocates and enforces discipline. It is not enough to make only rules, but there should be sincerity inherent in it. There should be mutual love and trust between the teacher and the learner. They must have devotion and dedication to the cause of education anytime anywhere. But this kind of sincerity is not seen in the educatiol institutes today. For achieving a decisive goal education should be meaningful and purposive, effective and successful. The main thing is to see that the students become aware of their ability to do well. Every student has some potential in him. It is the duty of the teachers to build up confidence in the students and give them wise guidance so that they can actualize their potential talent by their own effort.
Sometimes there may be some unpleasantness between the teachers and the students or between teachers themselves for something or other. The major issues and problems need to be negotiated with sincerity. There is no issue which cannot be solved with sincerity and with an attitude of “give and take”. It cannot be denied that procrastition, evasiveness and iction 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 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 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 life. The currently popular notion of a good student is of one, who has demonstrated the potential to generate private wealth of one, who is thoughtful, critical and imagitive. The brightest student is not a book worm lost amidst the library racks, but one who is neatly dressed and sophisticated and looks like a corporate mager, with typical mannerism.
Today the mushrooming of magement institutes demonstrates the fact that “magement” is the most important branch of education. As a result the present generation of engineers, computer scientists and even medical professiols suffer from a sense of incompleteness without a certificate of magement. These magement institutes promise lucrative jobs, handsome salary, foreign assignments and a bright future to the hopeful students. So now it is magement that is ruling the educatiol scerio.
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 noble and worthy citizens of the country. Only with cooperation and devotion education can be successful and effective. As William Ralph Inge said in “The Training of the Reason”, “The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values”.
(The writer is a former Head, Department of Philosophy, Cotton College, Guwahati)