The Need for Quality Education

Published on August 2, 2009

By Joel Mangboi Haokip

Swami Vivekananda, one of India’s foremost nation-builders, said, “The mind is crammed with facts before it knows how to think. Control of mind should be taught first. If I had my education to get over again and had any voice in the matter, I would learn to master my mind first, and then gather facts if I wanted them. It takes people a long time to learn things because they can’t concentrate their minds at will.”
According to AS Desai, former chairperson, University Grants Commission (UGC), “education has to be a process which prepares the student to learn to develop a way of thinking, that is know how to seek information, know the sources from obtaining it, how to sort out the information, analyze it, and make meaning out of it for conceptualization and application.”

In the 60 plus years of India’s independence, and since the formation of Manipur as a status of state in 1972, there have been tremendous strides in the field of education despite its abysmal educational sector. But the challenging question is, ‘have we fulfilled the fundamental goal of education i.e. character building’?  Character here means values, which forms the foundation of any harmonious society.

Value orientation is a totally missing dimension in our educational system. Gone are the days when the social and education systems provided an environment wherein the individual could imbibe values through examples set by the teachers and elders. Today, the pressures of materialism have pushed us into a situation where the teachers, parents and the students are racing against time to match their resources with the constantly changing demands of the environment. This calls for a paradigm shift in our perception of the goals of education.

To be a better society, we need to achieve success within the framework of time vested values to the youngsters to understand the underlying links between freedom and discipline, independence and interdependence, commitment to self and commitment to others, material success and moral values.
The prevailing societal mentalities should be changed like the practice of expecting someone else to solve the problems. It is the attitude of the educated person, rather than the ignorance of the uneducated, which is acting as the main constraint in achieving a feasible solution. The present-day education has become soulless in that most employees in the government sector and most of the politicians who are supposed to be torchbearers are setting bad examples for the younger generation.

Once my friend, who is an engineer jocularly said, “I would prefer to work as a clerk in Manipur than as an engineer in outside.” The meaning could be understood by anyone. The pervasive practice of corruption without fear almost from all the departments shows our lack of inculcating value-based education. When values degenerate, corruption sets in. The employees and officials who are supposed to be accountable for their actions to the people would not perform their assigned duties unless they are paid regular ‘speed money’. There are large numbers of projects in the state which are not implemented by the set deadline.

So, when any of these projects is completed, the cost would have gone up ten times. Take the case of Khuga multipurpose project in Churachandpur district, which was started since 1983 but was kept standstill for a period of time and resumed again in 2002 after a long gap. This mini-dam would have cost a few crores had it been finished in the set period but so far the costs have been a whopping 250 crores. But interestingly, none owns responsibility for the unpardonable lapse. A strange administration indeed! The guilty in the gross dereliction of duty are those who are ministers, high officials and engineers. And all of them are educated and they owe no explanation to the people for the huge losses caused.

An education that fails to inculcate basic values in the people is worse than ignorance and illiteracy. For flimsy reasons, politicians go on making new parties and most of them rise to power and prominence as a result of ego clashes. One would not know the number of political parties exist presently in a tiny state of Manipur. It is time we change our attitude to achieve wonders in revamping our education system. All of us should join hands and focus on this one cause so that there will be a perceptible change in the quality of life among us.
One would agree with me that, true education is of inculcating values but not knowledge of facts. True education leads us to the reality of life, peace, nature and survival of human race. The saying words of L. Richard Haokip, headmaster, Greenwood Academy, Churachandpur goes like this, “during my 15 plus years of experience in education, I have studied my school students and ex-students very deeply and I have found that the ‘values’ inculcated by the school, the society or home by the age of 18 to 20 years become more or less permanent.

Therefore, schools are the only institutions to provide true education to the child.” It shows that the role of a school teacher is more important than that of a college teacher in propagating education and nation building. The teacher should be a person with iron will. Apart from knowledge of his subject, he should have a thorough knowledge of approach to life, national goals, history, geography and cultural diversities, national and international policies. He should stand before the child like a learned saint and be able to satisfy all queries of the child.

The writer is an undergraduate engineering student at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India.