By Aaditya Tiwari
“Education is the manifestation of the perfection already present in man.”, Swami Vivekananda had once said. It is in sync with this vision of the spiritual giant that we as a country feel the necessity for valuable education right from our childhood. Thus, it is imperative that we continue our determined and steadfast efforts to educate the future of India; our children.
When we introspect and deliberate more on education, some specific questions strike our mind, how can we as a country impart quality education irrespective of inequities? How can we ensure every child be facilitated with quality education? Is providing education the responsibility of the Government or private institutions? Over and above, what is quality education? Are our children today skilled enough to learn, unlearn and then re-learn?
Delving on the substantive question of quality education, it crucial that any form of education must help explore ourselves and push us to venture into the unknown, rather than just equipping us with mundane jobs. Tracing back to history, it is no brainer that the British instated an education system which was best suited to them and in specific their demands. In brief, they were keen on a system which only equips people to read, write, and learn numeracy which can contribute to performing daily clerical work.
In order to attain the status of “Vishwa Guru”, India must most urgently develop a system which helps cultivate an individual’s mind and most importantly enables the child to question. It is of utmost importance that in today’s age a child must think beyond what is written in the books and what is being taught in classrooms. A vital question in this regard, which must be consistently pondered upon is, do we want the learning of a child to be restricted to some specific books or open up a platform where the child gets access to plenty of reading materials ? Children by nature are curious, inquisitive, it is up to us if we want to ignite the fire within and give it direction or blow it away even before it burns.
Sometimes when individuals are so involved in a regular, underpaid and under recognized job as that of a teacher, they tend to forget the larger purpose and stop thinking big! Thus, time is now ripe, that we start redefining the roles of a teacher and of the school. A teacher in today’s age should act as a facilitator, who rather than just teaching, as a sacrosanct duty ensures students learn. While it is easier said than done, it is vital that the Government plays a pivotal role in developing frameworks where a teacher is empowered in the art of teaching.
An immediate need today, is to think out of the box! We have all witnessed and experienced that it is always the teacher who teaches and the students learn. On the other hand, innumerable examples come to mind on how students have learnt despite the absence of appointed teachers. Sometimes it was from the nature they learnt or through various social conditions. In this context, initiatives like National Repository or Open Education Resources, Shaala Daarpan, School Leadership Programme are welcome steps in the right direction. For instance, National Repository on Open Education Resources is aimed at digitizing resources in different languages and dialects; the repository provides various options to children from all linguistic backgrounds to browse the resource of their choice, which in itself breaks the wall of accessibility. Another initiative, Shaala Darpan, which aims to involve the parent in the child’s learning, can indeed prove to be a major catalyst in transforming education in our country.
Yet another initiative which can well turn out to be a game changer is School Leadership and School Assessment and Standards. The very term School Leadership to be used in sarkari jargonis like turning a new leaf. We need to develop that spirit in our schools where the principals are not mere administrative heads but are more like managers of a football team trying to take their schools to greater heights. Similarly School Assessment and Standards aims to reorient school education where the core element is learning and the objective is improvement rather than inspection. Administrators today ought to end inspectorate culture and cohesively work towards enhancing the school’s performance.
In conclusion, two essential factors which play a decisive role in developing a child are the society and the school. What the child learns in school reflects in the society and vice versa. We need to make the environment in school conducive for learning. Schools must aspire to be the torchbearers to ensure an equitable society. It our duty as a society that children get suitable nourishment for their body, mind and soul in order to flourish like the Great Bodhi Tree and guide the world on the path of knowledge and peace. Since education directly impacts the nation’s progress, it is imperative that the change must begin from our classes. It is this education which will create future leaders, scientists and innovators. We as a nation have to decide where we want to see our country fifty years from now and act steadfast in that direction. After all, the future Subhash Chandra Boses, the Mahatma Gandhis and Swami Vivekanandas are sitting in these very class rooms!
Aaditya Tiwari is a Research Associate with India Foundation and former Teach for India fellow. The views expressed are his own.