Thursday 01 June 2023

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed


Education for Freedom & Equity


English should be learnt and so is the language of the region for the all round development of the child. Parents, teachers and government who desire to sacrifice and trade off one for the other are presiding over the destruction of an entire generation.

There will be absolutely no dispute to the statement that there is no dearth of expert recommendations and professional opinions for the qualitative improvement of education in our country. The regulatory mechanisms to coach, train and track are also in place. In fact, the resource bank of what needs to be done overflows.  Ostensibly on the merit of changing times but presumably in a bid to winnow the Nehruvian husk, the present government dismantled the Planning Commission and the five-year planning model to replace it with the Niti Aaayog which is yet to give its blue-print for planned economic development. The government now plans to scrap AICTE, UGC and replace it with one regulator christened as Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA).

Depressing picture

At the school education level, there are attempts to pack distorted history and unscientific content to promote the narrow political and social agenda. There are voices of protest to the reverse changes initiated by the CBSE which are invalidating holistic learning and making a swing back to rote learning. The CCTE which was introduced as an educational reform with grades and recognitions to syllabus inclusive of other pursuits and co-curricular participation stands disconnected from this academic year. This was innovative being inclusive and learner-centred. There are allegations that for the first time the CBSE has commenced micro-managing of schools.

Barring aside few exceptions, the quality of graduates from our institutions of higher learning is scary and can in no way boosts the morale of teachers and stakeholders in higher education. The major chunk is unemployable being not equipped with the needed skills. The scope for on-the-job training is also limited as the graduates are below the minimum expected level of learning. The graduates from professional colleges such as engineering and management exhibit deficiency in core skills and their marketability in employment is also poor because of weak linguistic ability making them handicapped in communication. The ‘worthlessness’ of the university degree is proliferating year after year. This is frustrating for the youth and degree-holders. It is a miracle as to how the teachers can stay satisfied and motivated in such an environment.

Language politics

 School education has expanded well in quantitative terms, yet there are many without access to this minimum level of education. Even after 70 years of independence, the debate on the medium of instruction is inconclusive in the country. This debate has got cluttered with politics, false sense of national pride and cultural chauvinism. English is viewed as an alien language though its real status is that it is both alien and domestic at one and the same time. None will say today that cricket is the game of the colonial masters. It is true that English-medium by itself brings no special magic. But, it is also a reality that child without English education will tend to increase the social divide.

Today, all should be taught English in addition to the regional language as the presence of English is all pervasive. The central government and all the states should allocate resources for English education to make it accessible for all and not just in elite schools along with regional language. Without English education as a supplement, we are stifling the human potential of our youth. The regional language medium apart from making the relatively difficult syllabus content intelligible and learning enjoyable also ties the youth to the rich and diverse heritage of the country and gives a sense of belonging to the nation. English should be learnt and so is the language of the region for the all round development of the child. Parents, teachers and government who desire to sacrifice and trade off one for the other are presiding over the destruction of an entire generation.

The prejudice challenge

The agenda of education cannot be only materialistic i.e. acquisition of skills for a productive future. It’s also the vehicle to imbibe constitutional and humanitarian values, in the absence of which, we will face a denationalized generation arresting the growth of the nation. It cannot be documented better than the vastly read and discussed poem of Rabindranath Tagore “Where the mind is Without Fear”. Pandurang Sadashiv Sane, dearly known to all as Sane Guruji synthesized the cultural value of education in a line-----“It is the one and only true creed (dharma); offer love to the world”. For the first Prime Minister of India, the greeting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (Victory to Mother India) meant victory to the people of India. Mother India for him was ultimately the millions of people spread over the vast land. Today, it’s a welcome sign for military strikes, salutation for lynching fellow Indians and spreading hatred or fear between communities.

Along with imparting skills to earn livelihood and inculcating thirst for further higher pursuits; the challenge before educators is to defuse the bombs of religious, regional and caste prejudices getting respectability in the country. This growing pollution of mistrust, fear and intolerance would in the end burn the creative opportunities of our youth and dwarf their free growth.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

I completely agree with Prabhakar. I am a careers advisor and deal with many Indians coming to UK with Degrees and having very less employability skills and very low level of English. Our customer service service skills are abhorrent and our people once they are employed still serve the customers as if they are doing a great favour. A standard example are our embassy and consulates.

Mustak Ahmed |

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.


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