Friday, September 30, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

Misra Commission Report


CHAPTER - 19

EDUCATION


The recommendations heretofore made are for provision of physical force to assist the maintenance of social equilibrium by avoiding riots or quelling them by use of force. For civilized human society in a Welfare State some method other than use of brutal force to keep the society on even keel must necessarily be thought of.

Aldous Huxley in his celebrated book “ The Human Situation” , wrote:

“the end of human life is to realize individual potentialities to their limits, and in the best way possible; and to create a society which makes possible such a realisation. We see that in very many cases, the effort to raise human quality is being thwarted by the mere increase of human quantity; that quantity is very often incompatible with quality. We have seen that mere quantity makes the educational potentialities of the world unrealizable. We have seen that the pressure of enormous numbers upon resources makes it almost impossible to improve material standards of life, which after all have to be raised to a minimum of any of the higher possibilities have to be realized. Although it is quite true that man cannot live by bread alone, still less can he live without bread; and if we simply cannot provide adequate bread, we cannot provide anything else. Only when he had bread, only when his belly is full, is there some hope of something else emerging from the human situation.”

The belly has to be full, otherwise physical existence would be in jeopardy. But without anything more, that would be animal living. Homosapiens are endowed by Nature with destructive traits and qualities. Man has infinite mental capacity and he is capable of having attainment in his own person of the whole range of human potential. The good of the individual has to coincide with the good of all others and of society as such. Karl Marx was right when he raised the slogan ‘ from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.’

Through good education, imparted at home, in the education institution and in the social sphere, the true element is every man has to be kindled. Today’s home, to a great extent, had ceased to offer any useful schooling. The child begins life in a small environment—for the initial few months the mother, perhaps a female attendant in well-to-do families, and occasionally the father, grandparents and some other close relations within a small part of the house constitute its environment. Very young though, the child has still immense human capacities and starts its process of silent learning from the environment. As it grows, the environmental sphere expands. In the first three or four years which are indeed the crucial years of its life, the child is ordinarily in the family atmosphere and elder members of the family, the mother being the first among them, are the people who play the role of teachers. First impressions last long. The foundation of growth in life with growing age is laid in these first few years in the back drop of the family environment.

Today the family environment is in bad shape. In a large number of families, the mother takes to employment ordinarily to support the family. Often, the justification is her anxiety to have economic independence. The father is fully occupied in collecting sustenance for the family and has no time to bestow upon the child. If the mother is not away from home being in employment, she keeps herself occupied otherwise at home and is either not in a position or does not feel called upon to give constant company to the child. The home- schooling for the child is thus totally unattended. The unlimited capacities innate in the child do not get the outlet to open up and become functional in a properly guided way.

Around the age of 3 or 4, the child starts going to school. More than eighty percent of the children in India live in rural areas. The primary schools do not provide the requisite environment for learning. The teacher is often ill-equipped and does not have the capacity to attend to the tender mind. Very often the inquisitive search of the young beginner is visited with punishment and this has the effect of closing the half-open mental door. Very many schools have either no teachers or inadequate teacher-strength. In many educational institutions the teacher’s representative plays the role of the teacher. Occasionally different people—very often without the necessary qualification—play the proxy depending upon availability. The primary stage is the foundation-laying period in the life of the young one. At this stage, the young mind is totally receptive and open to molding. Take the case master earthern pot maker. He prepares the clay after removing every rubble; upon mixing requisite quantity of water he makes quality paste and from out of it, his deft hands make water jars. After the mould is given and the desired thing is given proper shape, the same is burnt and is ready for use. Every customer before purchase gives the jar a test by filling it with water. If it is found to be leaking, the jar has no market and it is condemned. The craftsmen finds that he had failed to notice the presence of a rubble in the clay and when that came on the jar and remained, in the process of burning a crack developed and water leaked from that point. If the rubble had been removed when the clay was prepared into paste or when the jar was made ready but had not been burnt, the same could have been removed and with a bare touch with a little pressure, the deft fingers would have set the situation right.

The teacher, be it at home or at school, is expected to play the role of the craftsmen. The child is at the clay-paste stage. It comes to school for removal of rubbles. If the teacher fails to detect the presence of the rubble and have it to be removed in the process of schooling, the young one in due course would enter into society with the defect. Society does not have the test undertaken by the customer prior to the purchase of the jar. The net result, therefore, is the introduction of an undesirable person into society.

When the country’s future citizens are in the making, the teacher has no personality of his own to place before the young ones to be emulated. Unless the teacher is an embodiment of human virtues and by allowing exposure of himself and his qualities to the young students he is able to act as a model for them to imbibe, real primary schooling is not imparted. At the primary stage foundation of the life’s course has to be laid. Lessons through story-telling relating to indisputable human qualities like love for truth, respect for elders, tolerance of all, consideration for every one, kindness to animals, affection for fellow-beings, a sense of patriotism, firm faith in God and the like help easy pick up and assimilation at this age. The child has the natural instinct of absorbing what is told to it and since it has an impressionable mind, pick up is both easy and lasting; special attention should be given at that stage to ensure a neat and clean environment and allow total exposure of its mind. Article 45 of the Constitution envisaged that by 1960, full and compulsory education for all children until completion of the age of fourteen years should have been provided by the State. This has not yet been possible in spite of serious and sincere attempts of Governments. It is difficult to visualise an India of some future date where every citizen would have had schooling up to the age of fourteen. Even if that type of education still remains a far-cry, real emphasis should be on the primary stage.

No education can be said to be appropriate unless it is grounded upon a moral base. The Central Advisory Board on Education as early as 1944 recommended :

“ While they recognise the fundamental importance of spiritual and moral instruction in the building of character, the provision for such teaching, excepting in so far as it can be provided in the normal course of secular instruction, should be the responsibility of the home and the community to which the pupils belong. ”

The University Education Commission (1948-49) observed :

“Religion is a permeative influence, a quality of life, an elevation of purpose, and to be secular is not to be religiously illiterate. It is to be deeply spiritual and narrowly religious . . .

The attempt to make students moral and religious by the teaching of moral and religious text books is puerile. To instruct the intellect is not to improve the heart . . . Our attempt should be to suggest and to persuade , not command or impose. The best method of suggestion is by personal example, daily life and work, and books read from day to day.”

The Commission was of the opinion that ‘ inculcating social , moral and spiritual values indispensable for making good citizens should be the obligation of the State.

The Secondary Education Commission (1952-53) believed that religious and moral behaviour spring from the influence of the home, the influence of the school, and the influence exercised by the public. These , however, can be supplemented only to a limited extent by properly organised moral instructions dwelling on the lives of stalwarts of all times and of all classes. It pointed out that one serious defect in the school curriculum is the absence of provision for education in social, moral and spiritual values.

The Education Commission (1964-65) recommended that conscious and organised attempts should be made for imparting education in social, moral and spiritual values with the help, wherever possible, of ethical teachings of great religions. Dr.Rabindranath Tagore wrote in Bodher Sadhana : “ We must constantly remember that neither the education of the senses, nor the education of the intellect, but the education of the feeling should receive the place of honour in our schools.”

Moral values particularly refer to the conduct of man towards man in the various situations in which human beings come together. It is essential that from the earliest childhood moral value should be inculcated in everyone. The home has to be influenced to begin with. Habits, both of mind and body, formed in the early years at home, persist and influence our life afterwards. Good manners are a very important outcome of moral education. It is not unusual that when a people attain freedom suddenly after long years of bondage, they are inclined to become self-willed, arrogant and inconsiderate. In such situations, good manners are easily set aside and young people tend to express the first flush of freedom in license and rowdism. A look at Indian society today shows how prophetic were the words written two decades back.

The importance of good manners cannot be overstressed. These impose proper restraint on the person and take away harshness in speech and rudeness in behaviour. Good manners are often said to be the oil that helps to keep the machine of human society running smoothly. Good manners have to be restored to the living process in order that life may be graceful. By example and precept only good manners can be inculcated.

Just as moral values regulates the relation between man and man , so do spiritual values regulate the individual’s relation with himself. As has been rightly pointed out : “The individual is not only a body : he is also a soul. He does not live by bread alone: he wants inner peace and happiness. If he loses all spiritual values, he would no more be at peace with himself. It is necessary to have faith in something beyond the flesh, some identification with a purpose greater than oneself in order to achieve mental equilibrium.”

Patriotism should have the primary place in the catalogue of spiritual values. India had been conceived as an organic entity when our forefathers carried on the freedom struggle. They suffered all sort of harassments in the hands of the British rulers and many made the supreme sacrifice of parting with their lives for the cause of the mother-land. The picture of India as a living mother must have to be drawn in the mind of every citizen of this country. He must be taught to accept the position upon true conviction that for protecting the integrity of mother India, it is the duty of every citizen, if necessary , to sacrifice his life. Patriotic literature must from part of the curriculum in schools and colleges. Education should foster a burning love for the mother-land together with an ardent desire to serve one’s fellow beings. Education should leave the indelible impression on every one that anything that helps man to behave properly towards others is of moral value and anything that draws one out of himself and gives the inspiration to sacrifice for the good of others is of spiritual value. A system of education fails to teach this aspect is not worth the name.

The greatest of today’s needs for India is to bring forth into action our capacity to hold together as a nation in the midst of diversity of language, caste and religion. Our unity has to be based upon a conscious common cultural heritage and acceptance of a common goal to reach. As long as we were fighting the freedom struggle, a common ground overcoming the demarcating lines of differences had been evolved and the common goal of turning the foreign ruler away and freeing the mother-land from the shackles of the bondage held us together. Once freedom was achieved, the cohesiveness of purpose was gone and no new goals attracting the imagination and spirit of the common man had been set to keep us together. Maintaining freedom , once it is won, is indeed a challenging job. That is not the exclusive concern of the Government of the country. That is the return every citizen who breathes the air of freedom has to make.

The school programme has to be designed to awaken in every student an awareness of national integrity, community living, fostering of the democratic spirit, respect and tolerance for every religion, universal fellow-feeling and a genuine liking for Indianness. Emphasis on development of these aspects while selecting text book material , in class teaching as also during extra-curricular activities, must be placed. Care should be taken to find out teachers who would by their living method present an ideal model for the students to emulate.

The Seventh Plan which closed with 1985 had indicated that attention should be paid to all young children during their crucial development years up to the age of five. The early childhood stage is the period of maximum learning and intellectual development of the child and hence of great potential educational significance. An evaluation must now be made as to how much of the target set in the Seventh Plan has been achieved.

In the Constitution the makers very appropriately adopted the position that India would not have any State religion. In a country with segment of the population following almost every religion known to the world the position could not be anything different. This constitutional philosophy necessarily led to incorporation of provisions contained in Articles 25 to 30 under the heading “ Right to Freedom of Religion.” Article 25 guarantees to all persons freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion subject to the hedging provided therein. Article 28 envisages that no religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institutions wholly maintained out of State funds. Dispute arouse as to what exactly was covered by the phrase “ religious instruction” Courts soon rightly drew the distinction between religious and moral education. They held that moral education dissociated from any denominational doctrine did not come within the prohibition. They also held that academic study of the teaching and philosophy of any great saint of India such as Guru Nanak or Mahavira and the impact thereof on the Indian and world civilizations could not be considered as religious instruction. This interpretation was not taken into account and properly utilised. In the post-constitutional era, all books intended to be read by young people in India got eliminated of reference to religion and religious leaders. Today Rama, Krishna, Mohammed, Jesus, Gautam and Mahavira have become strangers to young people and in them these names create no reaction except recalling to their mind persons bearing such names within their ken. All religions accepts certain conduct as virtuous and emphasize upon man maintaining the unseen link with his Creator.

To emphasize these as a part of the education program cannot hit the constitutional mandate. On the other hand, without fruitful lessons of good conduct and imbibing some or all of them as part of life’s process, no education would be useful and no life can be successful. Into the reading material and the curriculum lessons of good living, lives of great men, a sense of idealism and faith in an unseen superior force must get restored if the quality of life has to improve. Scientific temper as contemplated in Article 51 A(h) of the Constitution certainly has its place. But beyond all sciences, man must repose his ultimate sense of confidence in an unseen force. A civilization with philosophy that what is not seen is not acceptable suffers from inadequacies and that is what has happened to the western civilization today. Several visible phenomena science fails to explain: yet they exist and even regulate the course of human life. Divinity is not any religion, it is the foundation of all religions and is perhaps the life force of creation. Every person in the community must take lessons in divinity ( not as part of any known religion) and sincerely attempt to establish link with his mentor. Today’s education provides a large amount of knowledge but not the requisite wisdom. When knowledge is transformed into experience wisdom comes. What is, therefore, necessary is to provide opportunity at every level to students to transform their knowledge into a series of experiences—exclusively their own. When this situation comes, the sense of a surcharged feeling comes and leaves an unforgetable impression on the mind. Education must help build bridges between art and science: between objectively observed facts and immediate experience: between morals and scientific appraisals. There are all kinds of bridges to be built. Once a matter is read and assimilated, it must be something more than what has been read it has to become a part of a living experience— represent a bridge to cross-over to the other side for exploring the great empire that lies beyond.

Education must assist total development of the personality latent in every man and give him a personal philosophy totally his own. While such philosophy should be generally in tune with the national ideal and philosophy, it must have touches purely personal to the person whose philosophy of life it be. Education must generate a balanced out look of life in keeping with the spirit of the nation as also the national goal. It must inculcate in every person a sense of respect for human life and other rights of citizens. Gandhi ji, father of the Nation, aptly indicated that no man has the right to destroy anything in this world which he is incapable of producing. Since man cannot create human life, what right has he to destroy it? Great emphasis must be laid on formation of character and due stress be given to obtaining of practical experience of knowledge. Once these are done, the desired transformation is bound to come.

Several generations educated on lines different from this method have come into Indian society since independence. Their reformation would be an uphill task. It is perhaps expedient that attention is bestowed on the new generations. Once the proper spirit is generated, every man’s conscience will do the policing and no outside agency will be required. The policing by conscience will be unfailing and there would be no apprehension of a repeated exhibition of sluggish and betraying conduct as appeared during the 1984 riots.

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