Dr Mandeep Singh Azad
and Dr Manmeet Motan
Now we can shut down our teachers and class room if we are not understanding the topic or we are not in a mode to study. We can put our teacher on repeat mode can make them stand still or speak fast or slow as our teachers now are google, wikipedia, youtube and computers, laptop our classrooms. As of 2014, the number of internet users worldwide was 2.92 billion, up from 2.71 billion in the previous year. This is the change in evolution of education system. From gurukuls to classes under a tree to class rooms with black boards to white boards to projectors and now finally on computers and laptops with smart classes .The system of education has come a long way and also the teachers, classrooms even students have changed. But one thing which has not changed is imparting knowledge through learning which is a never ending process.
In ancient times, India had the Gurukul a system of education in which anyone who wished to study went to a teacher’s (Guru) house and requested to be taught. If accepted as a student by the guru, he would then stay at the guru’s place and help in all activities at home. This not only created a strong tie between the teacher and the student, but also taught the student everything about running a house. The guru taught everything the child wanted to learn, from Sanskrit to the holy scriptures and from Mathematics to Metaphysics. All learning was closely linked to nature and to life, and not confined to memorizing some information.
The modern school system was brought to India, including the English language, originally by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay in the 1830s. The curriculum was confined to “modern” subjects such as science and mathematics, and subjects like metaphysics and philosophy were considered unnecessary. Teaching was confined to classrooms and the link with nature was broken, as also the close relationship between the teacher and the student. Today there are thousands of schools affiliated to the Board, both within India and in many other countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Universal and compulsory education for all children in the age group of 6-14 was a cherished dream of the new Government of the Republic of India. This is evident from the fact that it is incorporated as a directive policy in article 45 of the constitution. But this objective remains far away even more than half a century later. However, in the recent past, the Government appears to have taken a serious note of this lapse and has made primary education a Fundamental Right of every Indian citizen.
Modern day education is aided with a variety of technology, computers, projectors, internet, and many more. Diverse knowledge is being spread among the people. Everything that can be simplified has been made simpler. Science has explored every aspect of life. There is much to learn and more to assimilate. Internet provides abysmal knowledge. There is no end to it. One can learn everything he wishes to. Every topic has developed into a subject. New inventions and discoveries have revealed the unknown world to us more variedly. Once a new aspect is discovered, hundreds of heads start babbling over it, and you get a dogma from hearsay. Not only our planet but the whole universe has become accessible. Skill-development and vocational education has added a new feather to the modern system of education. There is something to learn for everyone. Even an infant these days goes to a kindergarten. Rightly said by Aristotle, “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refugee in adversity.” what everybody feels now.
Well, that was the positive side, but every story has two telling. Of all the virtue, our education system has developed into mere schooling now. Firstly our education is confined to schools and colleges. It has become a process of spoon feeding. “Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon”. Not art, not books, but life itself is the true basis of teaching and learning. Cramming of facts and dates, hi-fi mathematical formulas, theories and doctrines should be at college levels when one has chosen his area of interest. Secondly, an art can only be learned from a workshop of those who are earning their bread from it. Modern education has spread more ignorance than knowledge. “How” is missing in our world which causes ignorance. Thirdly all education is bad which is not self-education. Presently, children after school are sent to tuitions. This is a clear question mark on the ability of school teacher. Students are thought of like they can’t do anything on their own and so are sent even to do the homework.. Homework is a waste of time, if it is to repeat class work done today or to be repeated as class work to be done tomorrow. Our schooling does not leave us with time to get educated. My neighbour’s daughter once requested me to give her a print of article from internet on Baisakhi festival as her teacher has ordered for a nice article from internet and not to write on her on. I told her to write it on her own otherwise she will not use her mind but a print command from computer will do the purpose which is not a right thing. Finally our education is producing machines out of pupil. They read books, they speak books and they do books. Discussing in class lead to complications, which remains as confusions for a life time if left untreated. “Discussion in class, which means letting twenty young blockheads and two cocky neurotics discuss something that neither their teacher nor they know.” The private education market in India had a revenue of US$450 million in 2008, but is projected to be a US$40 billion market. Another report from 2013 stated that there were 229 million students enrolled in different accredited urban and rural schools of India, from Class I to XII, representing an increase of 2.3 million students over 2002 total enrollment, and a 19% increase in girl’s enrollment. While quantitatively India is inching closer to universal education, the quality of its education has been questioned particularly in its Government run school system. Some of the reasons for the poor quality include absence of around 25 percent of teachers everyday. It is the duty of Government and education authorities to improve system of education for producing intellectual brains for future and not machines for job.
(The writers are Scientist, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu (Jammu) and KAS Officer J&K)
Dr Mandeep Singh Azad