Widely respected as an educationist, late Krish Kumar Bora was not one by training. Starting as a lecturer of Chemistry in Cotton College, he was an academic who went on to be a successful education administrator. He began his engagement in 'pure' education, paradoxically, post his retirement from active service. For those who didn't know of him in his earlier stages of life, he was only the educationist who guided Gyan Vigyan Samity, Assam and pioneered the vercular medium schools of Asom Jatiya Vidyalay. It is not easy to understand or appreciate the person or his work unless seen in the background of his earlier work and the particular pedagogy that guided him throughout.
For generations of students who studied science at college level, late Krish Kumar Bora was the author of a short handbook of pre-university practical chemistry. Usually, students do not remember the writers of handbooks - but here was an exception. This small manual was a classic in the sense that it combined theory and praxis in a very balanced way. Practical chemistry (or for that matter anything practical!) is about experiments, doing things with your hands. But Bora went one step further - using hands to activate one's brain. Every description of salt alysis was an example of method of elimition - of observation, alysis and inference drawing. No wonder those students who grasped it could do so well…
The second phase of working life as an education administrator provided him with an excellent opportunity to use his problem solving skills gained as a student/teacher of chemistry.
Post his retirement as an education administrator in 1994, he took his role as an educationist, too, very seriously. He was a fast learner. It took him very little time to grasp the core philosophy of education. That year itself, attending a month long orientation on Early Childhood Education conducted by NCERT for educators and trainers, he became almost child-like in constructing knowledge through joyful methods. A sixty-four year old person actively participating in the action songs and games became really motivating for other younger participants. Bora was one of the first to understand the basic pedagogy behind this kind of orientation.
This was followed by a very active phase as educatiol reformer and pioneer of a certain new pedagogy. The cornerstones of this pedagogy were - (i) proper early childhood education forms the foundation for better learning, (ii) children learn by doing, so they should be encouraged to use their hands, (iii) children should be encouraged to make observations and practical experiments, (iv) though discipline per se doesn't lead to learning, it is very important in forming habits, and (v) learning takes place though the medium of one's mother tongue
Bora not only advocated the above convictions as a member of the Assam Educatiol Reforms Commission and in various meetings, but also went on to practically pioneer them through the model school he got involved in. Asom Jatiya Vidyalay, an initiative by a few other reform minded individuals who believed in mother tongue-based education, provided him with the excellent platform to him to try out his pedagogy.
Education through mother tongue was both an article of faith and deeply understood fact for him. It's no surprise that most of his writings, including the college level chemistry textbooks, too, were written in Assamese. Education, or learning, for him was about constructing knowledge of one's surrounding environment and applying that knowledge further. This explains why he, along with a few co-petitioners, moved the Gauhati High Court, with a PIL against the move of the State Education department to introduce NCERT textbooks as mere translations. He not only understood the dangers inherent in this move, but also thought of the practical step to question it. He was truly an educationist who practiced the pedagogy of work, thus deriving his conclusions for subsequent action. Krish Kumar Bora died on 19 June, may his soul rest in peace.
- Mukut Lochan Kalita