Saturday, January 29, 2011

Literacy is growing but there is no corresponding growth of Education

                After independence hot debate took place between Indian leaders on the issue of giving voting rights to people. Jawaharlal Nehru was of the view that only educated people should be given the voting rights, on the contrary Mahatma Gandhi was of the was the view that it is difficult to decide who is educated and who is not, since all literate person are not educated and all educated person may not be necessarily literate hence every adult Indian should be given voting rights. However after the death of Mahatma Gandhi there was no leader left who can draw the distinguishing line between literacy and Education. In the last 63 years after independence this two terms have been badly intermingled with each other. Even the government itself considers these two terms as synonyms of each other and therefore all the so called “Education Policies” of government are targeted to only increase literacy among people on the name of educating people.

                Let’s discuss what the difference between literacy and Education is. Although I am neither an Educationist nor a scholar but on the basis of my limited understanding I can spell this differences.
  • Literacy teaches us how to read and write and Education teaches us what to read and write.
  • Literacy is fact oriented whereas Education is value oriented. For instance a literate person will talk about economic growth rate whereas an educated person will talk about economic growth with distributive justice.
  • Literacy gives information whereas Education gives knowledge. The difference between information and knowledge is that information is technical or theoretical know how of any subject whereas knowledge is awareness about how, where, when and why to use that information. For instance a person having degree in physics might have vast information about atomic energy but it is true knowledge and Education which teaches a person that this information should be used for development of human kind and not for its destruction.
  • Education brings all round development of human personality i.e. Physical, Psychological and Spiritual development whereas literacy rather than leading to development maintains status quo. 
  • Last but not least Education brings revolution in thinking. It inspires a person to think in unconventional but creative and innovative way. It brings curiosity and rationalism in the thought process. It liberates person from mental slavery of superstitions, bias, disbelieves and outdated rigid social and religious customs.
                   Now judge our present education system on the basis of these criteria and you will get the answer. Declining morality in public life, growing cases scams, frauds and corruption, feeling of insensitivity among people towards national and social problems, negligence towards extra curriculum knowledge in youth, commercialization of schools, colleges and universities all points towards the failure of education system. Unfortunately we are living in the era where education has become necessity for all the wrong reasons. Whether educated or uneducated everyone agrees about the pivotal role of education in modern day human life. Even our always late responding Government has also waked up and includes it in fundamental rights of the constitution.

       But why suddenly education has become so much important for people of a country who has long tradition of treating Education as a patronage of few?  Education is must because without education one can’t get degree, prestigious white collar job, good bride or groom, status and wealth. People usually give these kinds of answers. I know that all the above mentioned things are also important in life and it’s even better that educated person gets prestige, wealth, social recognition, power etc. Because he knows the value of these things and he is least likely to misuse it, but all these things should be seen like a byproduct of education and not a sole objective of education. When I emphasize on the role of values in education I does not intend to convert education in a factory of mass production of defeated philosophers who have thousands of theories for every problem but no practical solution for any of them.

           But can we dare to aspire to become superpower or a developed nation with this kind of education system. Don’t forget that this Education system was established by Lord Macaulay to produce clerks to run their administration. so how can we expect from this education system to produce genius scientists, noble statesman, medal winner sports person and the most important a good citizen for a growing nation which was bonded in the chains of slavery for centuries. Tell me how many Indians have won noble prize after Independence? Don’t give me the name of Venkatraman Ramkrishnan (who won chemistry Noble prize last year) or V.S Naipaul or DR.Hargovind Khorana because all of them got this award while staying away from India. Now just glance through the list of American, Japanese and European Noble winners and then think for a while where we stand on the world map. Similar situation prevails on the front of Booker prize, Pulitzer Prize, Magsaysay award, Oscar award and any other internationally reputed award.

            Since last five years no Indian University is included in the list of top 200 Universities of world. Last year India had just managed to register 28,000 Patents whereas China whom we dream to compete had registered more than 200,000 patents. While we are feeling proud of coming 2nd in Commonwealth games in which participants were mostly from third world countries who were previously colonies of England, we simply forget that Australia who came 1st is a country of less than 1% population of India won almost double medals than us and When it comes to tough competition like Asian games and Olympics we have hardly won few handful of medals in half a century. On the name of Education we are just producing cyber coolies who for the sake of their so called luxurious life style (Pizzas, Burger, Coke, Pepsi, Shopping in Mall, watching films in Multiplex and dance in discotheque is a definition of luxurious life style for our so called Educated youth) are ready to sell or mortgage themselves to Multinational Corporations and call centers. Slavery is back in new form, few centuries ago European and American Masters used to import slaves from Asian and African Markets now rather than importing slaves they export their work to these modern slaves, which is known as outsourcing now days. 

                    In last 63 years we have heard and seen various reforms but what about desperately needed Education reform? whenever education reforms are talked about we only here about shifting to grade system from marks system, open books exams, exams by choice, virtual classrooms, introduction of optional subjects etc. What about injecting curiosity in the children which inspires a person to achieve the knowledge. Million saw Apple falling, but only Newton asked why because he had curiosity to know the things. Can these silly changes teach those values to our young generation of which we are facing severe crisis? Can these changes cultivate scientific temper in people who are still killing girls in fetus, killing young boys and girls on the name of Gotra and Religion? Are these steps potent enough to bring reforms which we desperately need in our education system? Or are they just like a plastic paint on a hollow wall. The answer is certainly "NO". We want thorough reforms and not few cuts and carves here and there, we want change from within.

            But the million dollar question is that who will bring this change? Our leaders who are busy in playing vote bank politics, washing each other’s dirty linen in public, honoring themselves with garlands made up of currency notes and performing outdated political stunts like taking dinner in a Dalit's hut or people of this great country who have even more important works like gossiping about Ranvir and Dipika's breakup, praying for Sachin Tendulkars 50th Test century, burning candles after every terrorist attack, watching repeated telecast of Rakhi ka Insaf and playing cards in local train? There are many such questions which needs to be  answered on a war footing but we are busy because World Cup matches are coming and we have so many responsibilities like discussing why Rohit Sharma is not taken in team and whether Dhoni should play in middle order or should play with tail enders. So we can't waste our time in thinking about such trivial issues, so we will think about this later if we get time from our important responsibilities.

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  1. In fact our politicians do not need educated people. They only want 'babus' to follow their orders. That is way they have not changed the age old schoolings left by the Britishers.

    Leave alone the education. Even the literacy figures published by the government is doubtful.

    Jay Ho !!!

  2. @ Navin you are right literacy figure published by government are not only doubtful they are also misleading. According to governments own criteria any person above the age of 7 years who can read and write is literate, but Among teachers who were paid to teach, absence rates ranged from 15% in Maharashtra to 71% in Bihar. A study of 188 government-run primary schools found that 59% of the schools had no drinking water and 89% had no toilets. 2003-04 data by National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration revealed that only 3.5% of primary schools in Bihar and Chhattisgarh had toilets for girls. In Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, rates were 12-16%.
    In Maharashtra, community based surveys of 28 cities and eight rural districts found that only 30 per cent of boys and girls in the age group 6-14 could read basic text fluently or do simple arithmetic. A study of two districts of Tamil Nadu (Madurai and Villupuram) found that most students lacked functional literacy and numeric skills. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are among the educationally advanced States. Similar results are reported by other surveys of four northern states. In another study of two districts of Madhya Pradesh, it was found that in most schools visited, few children could read their basic texts fluently. The emphasis was on rote learning and there was little attempt to impart understanding or comprehension of the text.


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