There cannot be two opinions about the fact that children and the youth are the strength and most important assets of the country. India one of the youngest nations on earth, whose more than 50% of population is below 25 years of age is not doing enough for the rightful education of this vast section of the society. The status of his vast segment of our human capital not only reflects the quality of life of the people of this country but also sets the limits for the future development of the society. In the ultimate analysis the investment in the requirements and developments of this section of population is the sine-qua-non of our existence as an independent nation aspiring to be the front-runner in the comity of nations.
In 1950 when we launched ourselves on the path of republican democratic life, we have inter alia made a tryst with destiny that the sovereign, democratic, republican state of India shall endeavor to provide within a period of 10 yrs from the commencement of this constitution for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 yrs. Framed in above terms article 45 of Indian Constitution expressed the resolve of the people of India to make provisions for free and universal education for all its children. For the purpose of proving a match to the above constitutional provision a massive expansion of administrative machinery and infrastructure for the development of children have been undertaken. Ministry of human resources development, dept of education, dept of family welfare, ministry of labour, ministry of social justice and empowerment and ministry of information and broadcasting prepare elaborate plans every year so as to achieve the constitutional goal of universal and primary education. That continues to be a task for the Indian Nation.
However, the, is the kind of education, which is being provided in the formal, informal, and non-formal sectors of our education system, has a serious bearing on the process of our national development. The emphasis being on western model of education, with no regard to the integrated and value based educational scheme, the ultimate goal of all kinds of education continues to be to produce Macauley’s clerks, who have no love lost for their value system and ideals that inspired the freedom and national struggle of this country. Pandit Madan Mohan malviya before founding the BHU had said, “to visualize India as a nation, it is necessary to feed its youth with old spiritual and moral values, which must be made a part of education based on Indian ideals. Mahatma Gandhi, way back in 1925 wrote in Navjeevan, that the emancipation of India depends on how we defend our value system. Whole purpose was to emphasise the point that education in India must be inspired by Indian culture and not based on foreign models whose only objective is to raise the standard of living. After independence the kind of secular model that came to be accepted as a model of national ideal negated all this. The dogma of religious fundamentalism came to be replaced by the dogma of secular fundamentalism. Equating traditional value system with religious fundamentalism the new system pushed into the background all questions of values and morality. What came to be established was what Mr. Nani Palkhiwala said “the secular fundamentalism our besetting sin, which is a triumph of the letter over the spirit, the letter killeth but the spirit groweth life”.
Basking in the glory of western model of education the succeeding generations of independent India are unaware of the supreme sacrifices made by our elders during the freedom struggle. We failed in passing to the generations the values that we once cherished the spirit of sacrifice for the motherland, the restlessness to alleviate the miseries of our poverty stricken masses and the urge to build modern India restoring to it the pride of place in the community of nations. We failed to inculcate the love for our cultural values based on the concept of sacrifice and service amongst our youth.
Looking from the point of view of integrated development of the personality of youth too, the post-independence model of education system has utterly failed. Mahatma Gandhi defined education as an attempt to bring out the best in the child and the man. John Dewey defined education in terms of continuous reconstruction process of one’s personality so as to build a new and pulsating future of mankind. The kind of rote learning exercises that are undertaken in our schools and colleges do not address the issues of integrated development of the personality of the child, or of drawing out of the best in the child and the man nor even an attempt to inculcate the spirit of continuous reconstructive process of man’s personality.
Where do we go from here? To my mind nothing less than a paradigm shift in educational system is the need of the hour. Indeed the role of the education itself needs to be redefined. Education, in the face of emerging challenges has to aim at integrated development of child’s personality, taking care of his physical, mental moral and spiritual well being and making him an ideal citizen capable of shouldering the responsibilities of national reconstruction. With family influence on the wane and little to learn from the teacher, the influence of western culture being promoted by electronic media with its accent on quick acquisition of position and wealth by fair means or foul, leaves the taught with no attachment to the nation, the family the society and its traditional value system. The need of the hour appears to be to include a dogma free value based education that must form a major portion of our educational curriculum so as to attempt a character building exercise of our youth and helping them engage in various tasks of national reconstruction.
Amar Pal Singh