In a propos to the above statement, we can reflect upon the current situation of the world in general and the developing nations in particular. Since Neanderthal times, education has always been the wheel which propels a society towards development and a holistic sense of prosperity.
Looking at the role of education from the point of view of a resident as well as citizen of a third world nation today, it can be argued that education should not merely be advanced or upgraded, in fact, it should be value-based, latent with the aim to foster ethical sensibility among the people, propagating tolerance as the dominant ideology, hence, it should be liberating.
History testifies that education is extremely integral to the wellbeing and progress of a society. However, education should make people all the more aware of their destination in this never-ending journey, which is to know the difference between “being educated” and “being literate”. “Being educated” should be the end to the means which is education. However, it should be borne in mind that education, as a means has no ending .Once it starts, it is a life-long process. On the other hand, “being literate” ends with the end of formal education. A society should focus, not on the latter but on the former, i.e. towards attaining sustainable, all round and never-ending process of education. The process of formal education is just one leg of this great endeavour called, “education”. After that stage, starts the actual phase of educating oneself with a wide gamut of experiences, values, ethics ,smartness and wisdom, in order to be able to make the right decisions in life, be better leaders and root out the pitfalls, the harmful elements, ‘polluting’ the society.
Before arguing about usefulness or uselessness of incorporation of values with education, there seems to be a need to understand what these values actually mean. There are a number of values which we hear/talk about, in our everyday lives. But, are all these values really beneficial to a society?? Can all these values, be it religious, nationalistic, Indian etc actually serve the purpose of uplifting the nation?? This can be explained in the context of India. If we look at the need of the hour in terms of values, possibly one thing comes to our mind and that is the value of “tolerance”. India, being a land of pluralism in every aspect, contradictions at every step, has always had to grapple with the issue of reconciling the conflicting views and practices. This era has seen the apogee of this dissonance and has led open the weaker areas of our nation in the front of the world eye once again. This is a great loss to us! Herein, arises the need to revisit and re-examine the education and the values that has been imparted in our country since ages. Education, in India, has been used as a springboard to propagate intolerance, from the time of pre-colonialism. Certain systems which our society has always upheld, like the caste system, defining gender roles etc have ‘adulterated’ the spirit of education in our country. Instead of teaching values like patience, mutual respect and tolerance towards the fellow Indian regardless the differences, our education system has incited more hatred and divisions among Indians. To this, we can add that the British wanted to divide us on the policy of “divide and rule, but we have chosen to remain divided since then, in fact, to find out new ways to hate each other and serve our self interests at the cost of other Indians and humanity, at large.
As a case in point, we can cite the example of values of ‘nationalism’ which has reached a dangerous point today and turned into jingoism, where values of upholding rights and dignity of women have turned into extreme feminism, where religious values have turned into chauvinism and religious fanaticism. This, we can even see in the world arena where devastations and killings keep occurring these days, in the name of religion, community, demand of rights etc. In the face of such adverse scenario at home as well as the international front, tearing many countries apart, it can be argued that incorporation of the “balanced” values instead of extreme or “prejudiced” and “construed” values has to be encouraged to bring about a metamorphosis in the reigning situations and make this world a better, simpler, hence, happier place to live in. Thus, values can amplify the effect of education. Sans the right values, education will simply be rendered a toothless lion, a chariot without wheels, a blueprint of life without empathy and sensitivity.
- Puja Kakati