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 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.
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.
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.
But now most of the people, including the teachers, have gone commercial. They have become more interested in increasing their bank balance than in teaching. Private tuition has become an integral part of education in today’s education system. Private tutors are in great demand.
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. This kind of teaching does not inspire the students .
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.
The consequences of inanity are obvious in education in all levels, whether in schools or in 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.
In today’s educational scenario it can be seen that young people with bright promises and possibilities while away their time and energy as well as resourcefulness without any regret. We see dull, mechanical and lifeless courses of studies imparted by bored teachers in an educational atmosphere that neither cares for learning nor for discipline nor for the welfare of the students. Nobody seems to care for those unfortunate learners who are floating like rudderless boats.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 trouble-makers. For the progress of an educational institution it is essential to chalk out plans for its development and there must be cooperation amongst the teachers, management, students and all concerned. 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 educational atmosphere.
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 and the allotted funds are to be used properly.
An ideal head of the institute advocates and enforces discipline. It is not enough to make only rules, but there should be sincerity and determination 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 For achieving a decisive goal education should be meaningful and purposive, effective and successful. The main thing should be to see that the students become aware of their ability to do well.
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.
Today we see an alarming 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. 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 the potential to generate private wealth than of one, who is thoughtful, critical and imaginative.
Today the mushroom growth of management institutes demonstrate the fact that “management” is the most important branch of education. As a result the present generation of engineers, computer scientists and even medical professionals suffer from a sense of incompleteness without a certificate of management. These Management Institutes promise lucrative jobs, handsome salary, foreign assignments and a bright future to the hopeful students, who naturally get attracted to these management institutes. So now it is management, that is ruling the educational scenario.
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, 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.