The case of ailing education

Karanvir Gupta
If you are thinking this is going to be about movies, I am sorry to disappoint you. It is not. It is about what connects them both – Education. Like all other things such as Makki ki roti, goond-katira, til, and fruits; most of the issues in our society are also seasonal. For example August and September are for discussing poor infrastructure, water logging and sanitation; May-June is for highlighting the villages without electricity and poor water supply; pre-monsoon time June-July is to discuss scarce and horrifying water conditions. And right now Feb-March is supposedly for Education. So I thought why not.
Every year at this point of time; all academic boards, Ministries and other education related NGOs become ultra-active. I am not sure if they really want to be heard or they want to ensure that they make noise at the right time so that tomorrow when the future generations are collapsing; they can get up once again to say “We did bring this up”. However as a matter of fact if anyone was seriously concerned or bothered about the State of Education in our country, it would have been a continuous process.
In the last two months, two movies got released, from different eras depicting concerns of the respective times. While one was presented wrapped in art and grandeur, the other was wrapped in naivety and inquisitiveness. Howsoever, one got bombed for hurting the sentiments of a particular group while the other got encouraged for showcasing a time-long issue that needed to be addressed and shared with masses at large scale. But where both of them failed – Education.
Had it been for Education, our reaction to Padmavat would have been asking questions, asking for the screening to be presented and then take a call if any sentiment for any ethnicity was hurt or taken a pot shot at. We congregated and stood up to protest – and that is where Education failed us and we failed Education. Similarly, Padman is a clear example where Education should ideally trigger inquisitiveness but in our day-to-day life we are probably not supposed to ask questions and not question the status quo itself. And when one person tries to do that, he is mocked upon.
It is sad to see the mere purpose of education in today’s world is to get a degree and then find a job. I am not denying that Education is a means to all of that but Education’s sole purpose was and has never been that. Education in itself is a purpose – to broaden the horizon of thinking, enabling you, me and all of us to bring varied perspectives into what we do and how we do, to make us sensitive and sensible at the same time. Education is to enlighten one’s self. It is literally overall growth and development of an individual.
Our children might excel at 3Rs but it is on us – the parents, the teachers and the society to develop a conducive environment for an individual to be educated – in real. Let us educate them to be sensitive towards nature and fellow beings, educate them to be sensible enough to make wise decisions, be tolerant enough if they cross question, educate them to be physically fit and healthy and educate them to share what they have learned. No class in this world can teach all of this but we as a society can definitely make this a continuous practice.
While schools and institutions will try to have the best curriculums with the changing times, we all know and have witnessed that how far is practicality from our education system. What we are taught in classes is obsolete enough – to be not even used – in hands-on jobs.
While the meaning of education is being lost, what is being delivered in the name of education is also not at par. There is a long way to go before we instil the true meaning of education back in classes and bridge the academia-real world gap. And it cannot happen solely at the policy level or changing curricula year-on-year. This needs sensitisation at grass root level. It starts at home. It starts from you and me. it starts with small little steps.
This March, don’t tell your children to get enrolled for a particular degree rather ask them to think, come back and share with their teachers and parents¬† why they would want to pursue a particular course for themselves!
(The writer is an IIM Shillong Alumnus)