Friday, April 13, 2007

The Road Ahead

I want to live/ I want to grow/ I want to see/ I want to know/ I want to share what I can give/ I want to be/ I want to live.....There are children raised in sorrow/ On a scorched and barren plain/ There are children raised beneath a golden sun/ Children of the water...There are children of the sand/ And they cry out through the universe/ Their voices raised as one...” -John Denver

Whenever we talk of education, e-learning, technology in education etc., there somewhere in my mind I wonder at the dualism of it all. Schools suddenly start looking unreal. Where can we move ahead if majority of the children are hardly educated? With all that talk of globalization, think of those villages where people still struggle for two square meals a day. Forget worrying about things like education. This disparity is heartbreaking. People talk of sharing knowledge. Also of creating such an educational atmosphere where teachers of ‘good schools’, should as part of their job go and teach/ take lectures in the ‘not so good schools’. It reminds me of some such decision of the government , which requires young medical pass-outs to go and practice in the villages, in the first few years. How much of that is fulfilled is debatable. So I think it could be voluntary.

Coming to statistics, I read somewhere, 35% of our people lack basic literacy, about 53% of our children drop out of school at the elementary level. And just a third of high-school students graduate. Sounds dismal. The drop out rate should be telling us something. Schools should not become a social problem. Now this kind of neglect on the part of the government is deplorable. There is a lot on paper to show-off, how much is implemented is the question.

Also it brings to mind that vocational training should be given more emphasis. There should be more skill centers, as one of the main objectives of educating society is employment. A new market for skill-learning needs to be opened up. The people enrolling for these centers should not have those demonic entrance exams. A certain kind of liberation is required from being enslaved to schooling and certificates attached. Industries/ offices/ business houses could open these skill-centers.

In the words of Professor Amartya Sen,”When people are illiterate, their ability to understand and invoke their legal rights can be very limited and educational neglect can also lead to other kinds of deprivation…..If we continue to leave vast sections of the people of the world outside the orbit of education, we make the world not only less just, but also less secure,”

With such a good picture of the Indian economy at present, do spare a chunk for education, and implement it at a war footing. Don’t lose sight of the desirable end result, and that is employment.

To end with John Denver’s song :

“We are standing all together/Face to face and arm in arm/We are standing on the threshold of a dream/No more hunger no more killing/No more wasting life away/ It is simply an idea/And I know the time has come........

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