What would be a true/ real education?

Published on January 7, 2007

What do we want youngsters to know (or to be) when they leave school? Youngsters, to me, need a much bigger dose – that would be humanities, it is not just language, mathematics, or science.

Often we forget that education is not only about getting young people ready for the job market – rather it is also about learning to uphold and function or take up efforts for the upliftment and betterment of the society we live in. In other words, education would mean striving or building of a better world. Therefore, the studies of literature, history, society and moral philosophy or practical ethics are absolutely vital.

In the present situation, we are already a society, seeing the consequences of our shortsightedness and narrow-mindedness. Our minds are covered by the layers of anger, intolerance and violence. The past is still very much with us in our present. Even though many dramatic transformations have taken place in our society. Knowing India/society should also mean knowing your locality. Students can recite chapters and verse of Indian history in a macro sense but they cannot tell you much about the history of their own state, city or neighborhood. You cannot know and appreciate the whole/larger agenda outside world. If you are ignorant about what is on your doorsteps. In fact, education would mean – to train us how to think globally and act locally.

For instance, if we are to ask students from the Kuki community that what implication/significance does the Kuki-Rebellion (1917-1919) have? What are the factors responsible for the Kuki-Rising? – Hardly a handful will come out with a logical answer or desirable responses. The valors of our forebears are put into oblivion. Things should begin at the local level and end at the international level. However, in our case things develop the other way round or paradoxically. As human beings, moral choices and conundrum constantly confront us, not knowing which direction to head on. Often we are catch in a ‘22’ situation. As we lack clarity of thought we are unable to think positively and objectively – this is why majority of us are irrational in our approach.

What do we owe others? What do they owe us? What are our obligations?

These and other questions are the very stuffs of our existence. We debate them in our heads with our friends, families and foes all the time. Yet we make little or no effort to teach our young people how to think about them. We are engaged in beautiful agendas while putting the crux of the problems aside.

There is an urgent need to end the differences in our thoughts and mindset in order to be a truly educated one. But doing so without addressing the larger distress, is to try to mop the floor dry with the taps open. The great religious text and the writings of great philosophers bear on these issues. We need to take their “ help” in solving our problems. Conversely, we refuse to use these resources for our guidance and in educating ourselves.

In our endeavor to be a truly educated one, we have to change our attitude, mindset, and accountability in public life and so on and so forth. Finally things have to be viewed rationally; in a wider context for a collective and a lasting solution in the long run!