Quality education brings about transformation of body, mind, heart and spirit. Since a policy is a present decision for future action, a relevant Education Policy can become a critical and effective change agent for the transformation of India and its people.
Envisioning a future we want to build together, we work together for the dawn of that day to come soon when India’s greatness will be judged, not primarily by its military or economic strength nor by the splendor of its capital cities and public buildings; nor by the affluence and wealth of a minority of its population; but by the well-being of all its peoples; specifically by the actual availability of the three fundamental guarantees of equality, justice and freedom to all, resulting in national unity; by the provision and attainment of adequate levels of education, health, housing and nutrition that all have access to and avail of; by the opportunities that the people of different levels of competence have to earn a fair reward for their labours; by the ability of their women to participate in those decisions that affect their lives; by the respect that it shows for civil and political liberties; by the provisions that are made for creating an inclusive Indian society, formed as a community of diverse cultures and a new society where every person is accepted, respected, loved and cherished, irrespective of differences of religion, caste, sex, language, colour, ideology or ethnicity.
Personal, local and regional initiatives synergizing into a national movement for a regenerated nation will create a new people and a civilization of love and peace, a Dharma Bharat.
India’s unique insight is that knowledge liberates. In today’s knowledge-intensive and technology-driven world, possession of competence has become a non-negotiable component for everyone to enable the person to deal with the demands of life today and the greater demands of tomorrow. It is not enough to focus on economic development only or on building smart cities; but make people smart to take responsibilities within and without. How many lakhs of ‘Kalpana Chawlas’ lie hidden in our school campuses? They have to be identified and opportunities be given for their full development. The dream goal is: make every Indian a winner in school and in life.
A pious dream? No. Today, with technology backed pedagogy, this is indeed possible.
Our present system of education does not produce competence, except for a few and in a few institutions. The majority come out of the education system incompetent. Due to cultural constraint we are also very allergic to even constructive criticism. We should aim at not just education for all, but quality education for all.
For this our educational institutions need to be freed from bureaucratic rules and regulations, and make a radical shift of educational goal from learning to memorize content to becoming competent to deal with the realities of life and conditions through development of higher order learning skills. We need to develop a curriculum of life skills and soft skill (emotional intelligence) for the whole school stage, involving both the left and right brain competences. A fresh document with behaviourally specific learning outcomes in terms of holistic skills for the primary and upper primary levels needs to be produced and implemented. Accountability mechanisms need to be incorporated in the administrative process.
Effective measures to provide quality education especially in government run schools ought to be implemented. There is no evidence in history of any country successfully achieving universalisation of education except through government intervention. We cannot continue to neglect half of India’s people and hope to become a developed nation. Seriously we need to take a definitive view on the need and necessity of value education and character formation. Delinking from religion we need to link to a spirituality of life and action.
Currently the soul of India is being put on sale in the urban market place, where money and personal profit alone are gaining the first and only place as the almost exclusive currency for all kinds of transactions. Hence the urgent need to provide value clarification for the young. Today education on human rights and values has become an imperative.
Make India Indian again: Truly Indian, Really Modern and Deeply Human.
Note about the author: this is a short edited version of a rather long reflection by a renowned Jesuit educationalist, Fr. Thomas Kunnunkal of Delhi Jesuit Province, in the context of the present Indian political dispensation wanting to advocate a National Education Policy for India. Government of India had recognized his educational caliber when he was appointed as the Chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education for the whole of India. (john Chathanatt, SJ, GIAN Member, South Asia).