Educating the Educated

By Prabhakar Timble
31 December 2013 09:46 IST

The only effective weapon in the armory for the economic and social empowerment of our people is education. Education and skill formation alone can result in the transformation of communities engulfed in poverty, tradition and discrimination to a society overwhelmingly modern which respects democracy, fraternity, secularism, equality and justice. Skill formation makes people productive and opens opportunities of economic gains. The goalpost of education is to drive people to progressive and liberal values.

Growth and governance models are necessary as they multiply the gross domestic product and provide minimum standards of living to the masses and affluence to the classes. Constitutions, laws and legislations are guarantees which reflect the commitment towards building of civilized and cultured society.   However, they are not sufficient for the emergence of a progressive and cultured society.  The greatest sin of education is that it is lagging behind to “educate” the educated. The prescription for this depression is nothing else other than renovating education for the ideals enshrined in the making of the Indian nation.

Learning and Unlearning

Education through inculcation of skills injects economic power. It also releases energy for social emancipation from the evil clutches of outdated religious beliefs and false pride of caste is less understood. Education also amputates the human body and mind from gender, race and regional prejudices is sparsely appreciated. As a result, though the spread of education has thrown up alternative choices of occupation, employment and entrepreneurship; the failure story lies in not liberating the educated from the coma of religion, caste and gender chauvinism.

The major thing to unlearn from the learning that we are subjected to through schools and universities is to abdicate the ownership of the regressive tradition and discriminatory past.   The appropriate and rightful place of tradition should be in archives, not in our present lives. It should stay safely buried in the laboratory of history rather than interrupt the march to a liberal society based on equality and reason. Through education we should unlearn that past can never be golden in the present context and learn that road to a better future is not through repeating the past but dismantling it to carve a scientific future.

There are definitely human role models of change worth emulating. The unlearning is not to convert the historical figures into idols of blind hero worship and spread hatred and arrogance amongst different communities.  The learning is to derive inspiration for change and transformation as opposed to status quo. 

Unlearning on school and university campuses demands grabbing of freedom from our heritage of caste and gender. On the contrary, we use these locations to celebrate and preserve as if it is a rich inheritance. Learning has largely come to mean a concoction of course content and syllabus to improve employability and job prospects.

 

Inculcation of civic sense and democratic values through the structure of institutionalized education has paled into insignificance. Temples of education are reduced to industrial units of degrees.  Factories of religion and politics have become shrines of teaching morals, culture and values. Educational institutions need to play an assertive role to promote the civic and community values enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Learning as self-discovery

It needs to be reiterated that though there are gaps in the content and delivery of education, it remains as the sole vehicle of change. There appears to be no other conduit of progressive transformation. The Indian Constitution and the progressive legislations are documents of dreams and good intentions. The assimilation of these values in citizens and the makeover of the society can be enabled only through education.

Apart from the renovation of content of education, the methodologies should promote self-learning. Primarily, teaching facilitates learning but real learning takes place through a process of self-discovery. Actual learning starts when the sounds of teaching stop. It is a much bigger and larger process necessitating self-involvement of the learner.

Learning is a process through which a student searches for answers to questions. In fact, learning could abruptly stop if teachers provide the answers. It is through the search for answers that the student understands the complexities and diversity of human and community relationships. The environment in educational institutions should foster the thirst to question, the ability to think, the competence to form opinion and the culture to change opinion based on new knowledge. It is through this approach that education would put the learner on the ladder of overcoming fear and winning freedom from unscientific beliefs and discriminatory practices.

It is indeed a paradox that the uneducated and the less educated exhibit love, courage, civic sense, tolerance and compassion as compared to the educated and the highly educated.  It is absurdity that the educated demonstrate regressive social values and uphold the inglorious flag of the discriminatory past.  Educating India’s illiterate millions is definitely a challenge. Re-educating the educated is perhaps a bigger one.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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