Are we [really] educating our younger generation?
“Are we REALLY educating our younger generation?” This is a grievous question which we must be asking and yet we hardly care to even think about. Most – if not all – of the teachers are sure to shy away or even mock at this crucial question. Those few of our academicians, who are truly concerned, are still struggling while finding a way to answer the said question – appropriately. Why?
Since past few weeks I have been interacting with students across four colleges – in rural as well as urban areas. In these meetings it appears to me as if I have succeeded in demonstrating the value of “True Education” a program designed and developed by myself to motivate students towards seeking questions towards triggering their critical thinking ability. While I found some motivated students, the overall situation is far from encouraging. It appears as if our academic system has failed to impart proper education to the students, miserably. Yet, even after realizing this very fact, our society seems to be indifferent to this grave shortcoming in our academia. None seem to be bothered at a time when our entire academic system should have been admitted to intensive care unit years back.
Our educational system has collapsed at its roots. To justify this let me start recalling my recent academic voyage which starts from SDM College at Ujire on an upbeat note. The management here has assured to implement this – True Education – program. It appears to me as if teachers had intentionally selected the cream of the students for participating in this experiment. It may sound strange, but it’s true that only two or three amongst them actually stepped forward voluntarily to raise a few question(s). I had to make every one talk. This task was indeed challenging given the obvious fact that our students are not encouraged to ask question(s) or make comments in the class room to his teacher. The situation is same in colleges across the length and breadth of this country. One encouraging outcome was that once students started to realize that any one is free to ask question(s) more students began taking interest. Like students in other colleges, students at SDM College, also, are a bit wary about library and non-academic books.
The worst and also the most distressing performance were at SVS College in Bantwal. Being a part of management, I have to take at least some part of the blame. One after the other I interacted with three groups of final year B.Sc., B.A., B.Com, and B.B.M. students. Even after begging them to ask questions, their faces were indifferent! I just couldn’t find a student who read a newspaper, daily. This is despite the fact that the college has a reasonably well-equipped library. Less than 1% of the students were even aware of Reddy bothers of Bellary and how they have been harming their state. The case was true even with students of political science! This being a grant-in-aid college management has very little control over the teachers. Like many colleges in Dakshina Kannada, NAAC has given a ‘B’ grade to this college after considering its facilities. One can only imagine the standard of education in other grant-in-aid or government colleges in the state.
True education session at RIMSE
At Ramakrishna Institute for Moral and Spiritual education (RIMSE), True Education was far better received this year in comparison to previous one. Students who are to be teachers in the near future were not well informed, had not been exposed to the need for reading news papers and magazines, to read books other than the text books and above all to ask questions and discuss freely without any inhibitions. One exciting thing was that many expressed interest to participate in “True Education” sessions to discuss topics like corruption, quota system, education system, need for learning English, and importance of studying history. They readily agreed that they have not received proper education till then; it was only information which was imparted them through the texts.
Towards the end one of one such program a student gave a moving speech on how the educated class is betraying the society by not taking part in politics. He stated that it is we the people who have voted the politicians and we have the responsibility to throw them if they are corrupt. Similar sentiment was expressed by one of the students at Vijay Vithal PU College. Principal Gurumurthy has decided to conduct “True Education” program for all the students, first such attempt in Mysore.
At Vijay Vithal College, one of the elite colleges of the city, it was shocking to relearn that 90% of the students take tuition while no one finds time to read library books. It looked as though the ONLY GOAL of all students was to pass examination.
While students felt corruption was a big problem, most did not find anything wrong in bribing to get their work done. Our school system is emphasizing value based education for a long time now. To them I ask: Is this the lesson we have taught them in values? I had similar experience in many other colleges.
It was inspiring to learn that there were several students in each of these colleges willing to participate in True Education program. After the session, I was pleased to find students coming up to me and seeking me to return and conduct such programs at regular intervals. Unfortunately the response of the teachers was far from encouraging.
Given these facts it becomes easy to appreciate with Narayan Murthy’s view that 75% of our graduates are not employable. Scientist C. N. R. Rao has been trying to attract students to take up the challenges of natural sciences. Are students of our present education system capable to rise to his challenge(s)? I don’t think so; not with this kind of an approach in education. It is high time that we realize this pathetic condition of our education system, and work towards improving its quality. The idea of “education” being limited to “passing exams” MUST be nullified; before making “education” as the one “which builds a person’s character before making him employable”.
Author is an advisor to Pratham Mysore on programme implementation. He is an IITian and holds a Ph.D. in Management.