Education and social change

Ram Rattan Sharma
Education is an important instrument of modernization . Modern values in social economic and political spheres have to be instilled in the minds of people to achieve the goal of modernization values such as equality, liberty, scientific temper, humanism & ideas against blind faith pave the way for modernization. This task can be effectively performed by education. Education influences different domains of Social Change, it inculcates   in the younger generation whatever changes are desirable for rebuilding a society moreover, it cultivates necessary intellectual and emotional readiness to deal with challenges of change.
In ancient India education was provided by the family, K in group and society as a whole through participation in daily life. But as the needs and activities increased in course of times, a more systematic means of instruction was introduced and a specialized occupational group of teachers was formed. Historically speaking modern education appeared in India with the establishment  of British rule. Initially, the British rulers supported traditional schools and by the middle of the nineteen century the colonial policy changed and a decision was taken to introduce European literature and Science in India. English was made the medium of instruction in the higher branches of learning. About 90% of the population was illiterate even in the early part of the twenty century. Higher education was given priority over primary education. The enrolment in colleges and universities increased at a higher rate in schools. Modernization through education remained confined to the educated and elite groups that ordinarily belonged to the upper castes. The system of Education introduced during the colonial rule gave different orientation to the educational system and laid foundation of modern education in India. Education in India has achieved amazing success during the last sixty years. Its achievements, both in absolute and relative, have been remarkable. The fact becomes more  visible, when we compare the present situation with the  one existing at the time of independence. We inherited an education system which was unrelated to national needs and aspirations. It was quantitatively small & qualitatively poor. Only about 14 percent of the country’s population was literate, it lacked vocationalization and had no relationship with the Social & Cultural needs of  the Indian Society. After the independence, it was recognized that education formed a vital aspect of the modernization processes. Therefore, educational reforms were accepted as an important agenda of National development.
In 1951 we had a literacy rate of 18.3% which went up to 52.2% in the 1991 census. The rate of literacy according to 2001 census was 65.38% , while the  literacy rate in the case of the  male was 75.85% . It was 54.16% in the case of the females. It is apparent from the figures that there has been the procedented growth in the field of literacy in India. The female literacy rate has increased by 14.87% as against 11.75% in the case of males.
It is because of the Govt. Sponsored National campaign for literacy which has made tremendous impact and the considerable involvement of NGO’s which have made the literacy campaign more flexible. The expansion and the consolidation of elementary education have been equally remarkable. Now almost 94% of  countries rural population have primary schools within 1 KM. At the upper primary stages 84% of the rural population have schools within a distance of 3 Kms. The enrollment at the primary stages have increased many folds. A new scheme called Sarva Shiksha have been launched to pursue universal elementary education in mission mode. The expansion of institutions of higher education has also been exceptional.  Apart from expansion and spread of education opportunities at different levels. Special emphasis has been put to improve the status of women through education. Girl child has become a target group. Similarly, educational development of the schedule castes and the scheduled tribes has received added attention. The National policy on education envisages that free and compulsory education should be provided to all children up to the age of 14 years. This target of universalizing elementary education is yet to be achieved. But the education which was for a few now is for all people, the groups and communities who were deprived of access to education have now joined the national mainstream of development. It has not only disseminated universal values such as equality and humanism, but it has also transmitted scientific world view. Education has spread into every nook & corner of the country, the difference in attitude towards boys and girls is no longer prevalent as before. As a result of the expansion of education, the degree of mobility among the members of the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes has considerably increased. Increasing    in education among the deprived and the down trodden reveals change in their levels of aspirations. As the nation has accepted the significance of education for the social and economic development of the country. It’s educational planning has to move in  this direction. The report  of the education commission, entitled education & national development force fully states. Education cannot be considered in isolation, it has to be used as a powerful instrument of social, economic & pol change.
(The author is former Deputy Librarian University of Jammu)
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