SM-2

1 Lesson -1 (I) EDUCATION IN A DEVELOPING SOCIETY

Lesson -1

(I)  EDUCATION IN A DEVELOPING SOCIETY  

Sajjad Ahmad

Introduction 

            The future of the nation is in the hands of the youth and that future is determined by the training and education they receive today. Education indeed is the barometer of a society's advancement. How successful has been our educational endeavor in independent India? What is the role of state in a developing democratic society like India? What are the constraints in achieving objectives of education are some key issues that you will find in the chapter.

            To understand education in a developing society one must know the characteristics of Indian Society. Some of the main features of India society are given below. However, since they are self-explanatory, therefore, it is thought that further details are not needed because every individual in India is aware of the meaning of these features.

·         The Caste System

·         Social Classes : Higher, Middle, Lower Classes

·         Religious and Sub-religious groups

·         Variety of Languages

·         Diverse Culture and Customs

·         Excessive Population

·         Poverty

·         Disorganization of joint family.

·         Disorganization of values

·         Marital disorganization

·         Materialism

·         Politicization

·         Social disorganization

·         Economic difficulties

·         Unemployment

·         Uneducated Masses

            There are several other features related to Indian society which is termed as developing society. With the diversity up to such an extent the state plays a key role in the field of education so that the fabric of Indian society should not disintegrate as well as the constitutional commitment should not scatter. One thing is important here to know before discussing education in the developing society like India is that our education system has taken a long journey in acquiring the present nature. It has seen many ups and down. Let us discuss some of the feature of education after independence.

            When India achieved her independence, newly emergent nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America were preoccupied with the task of renovating their educational structures to suit their national needs and aspirations. In India, national education has been born as a side product of freedom movement beginning with anti partition movement in 1905-11. It moved from there to set up some experimental institutions outside the official system financed and controlled by the British Raj as in 1920s and the 1930s. The earlier national institutions became a part of the general system and efforts were made to convert the entire system of education to the national pattern. In an inaugural speech to the All India Educational Conference in 1948 Jawahar Lal Nehru said, ‘Whenever conferences were called to form a plan for education in India, the tendency, as a rule, was to maintain the existing system with slight modification. This must not happen now. Great changes have taken place in the country and the educational system must also be in keeping with them. The entire basis of education must be revolutionized.’ This promised revolution in education was not an easy task to materialize as after independence and partition as  there were huge problems before the country such as problems associated with the rehabilitation of the refugees, reorganization of the states, reorganization of the bureaucracy and army, constitution making and making India a republic. Plans had to be drawn up for developing the country.

            In 1948, a university commission under the chairmanship of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was appointed for the reconstruction of university education so that the demand for scientific, technical and other manpower needed for the socio-economic development of the country can be met. The recommendations of the commission covering all the aspects of university education in India were wide. It emphasized the 10+2 structure at the pre-university stage, correction of extreme specialization in the course, development of research to advance the frontiers of knowledge and of professional education in agriculture, la, medicine, education, science and technology, business and public administration, industrial relations and suggested reform of examination system by assessment of students’ work throughout the year and introduction of courses on the central problems of the philosophy of religion. They also emphasized the importance of students’ welfare by means of scholarships, and stipends, hostels, library and medical facilities and suggested that they should be familiar with three languages i.e. regional, federal and English at the university level and that English be replaced as early as possible by Indian language. The commission was also in favour of the idea of setting up rural universities to meet the need of rural reconstruction in industry, agriculture and various other walks of life. The university should be constituted as autonomous bodies to meet the new responsibilities, a central University Grant Commission be established for allocating grants and finally university education be placed in concurrent list.

            In the same year when India was proclaimed a Republic, a decision to develop the country in a planned way was taken. Thus, planning commission was created at the centre and was entrusted with the task of drawing five year plans covering all aspects of national development including education. The first five year plan began in 1950-51 with Rs. 153 crores as an outlay on education, which represented 7.8% of the total plan outlay.

            In 1952 the Secondary Education Commission was appointed under the chairmanship of Dr. A. L. Mudaliar which submitted its report in 1953. It reduced the total duration of school course from 12 to 11 years and transferred the control of secondary school leaving examination from the universities to the specially constituted Boards of Secondary Education. While developing the curricula of the higher secondary course, the commission sought to diversify it by establishment of multipurpose schools which would provide terminal courses in technology, commerce, agriculture, fine arts, and home science. It is clear from earlier developments in education that the country was only interested inn retaining the colonial set-up and was mostly engaged in dealing with education in a piece-meal fashion. Further, in 1964, education commission was appointed under the chairmanship of Dr. D. S. Kothari to advise the government on the general principles and policies for the development of education at all stages and in all its aspects so that national system of education could emerge. In 1966 the commission suggested a drastic reconstruction, almost a revolution in education to meet the problems facing the country in different sectors. It suggested an internal transformation in education to relate it to life. It suggested that the internal transformation could be achieved by making science education an integral part of school education and improving its teaching at university level. Similarly work experience should be an integral part of general education. Vocational education was emphasized both at the lower level (11-16 years) and the higher (17-18 years) secondary stage while in higher education about one third of the total enrolment was to be expected to be in vocational courses. A common school system with equal access to children from all social strata was suggested and some form of social services was made obligatory for students at all stages. Development of fundamental, social, moral, and spiritual values including a provision for some instruction on different religions was also emphasized. National consciousness as well as a sense of belonging to the country was sought to be promoted through the adoption of curricular programme. Retaining the three language formula with some modification, the Kothari Commission recommended the development of all modern Indian languages for use in education as well as in administration in their respective states. While all the three languages should be studied at the lower levels, only two of these were to be compulsory at the higher secondary stage. Since resources for up-grading all the institution were not available, the commission suggested that at least 10% of the existing institution should be up-graded to adequate standard during the next ten years. The commission accepted 10+2 at the secondary and the higher secondary stages followed by a first degree course of a duration of not less than three years. The commission also recommended for uniform pay scales to improve service condition of teachers so that the best persons coming out from the education system could be attracted towards teaching.

            Since education was then a state subject, the procedure would have been to refer those recommendations to states but the public demand for national system of education was so great that the government of India decided to depart from the usual procedure followed earlier. The government referred them to both the houses of parliament and out of these discussions emerged the first national policy on education in independent India in the form of a resolution on education in July 1968. Even after several dilutions the basic framework remained the same till the coming of the New Education Policy in May 1986.     

            In January 1985, the government of India announced that a New Education Policy would be formulated soon. In August 1985 after making a careful assessment of the existing developments, the proposals were submitted to the public for a countrywide debate and discussion, and in May 1986 emerged the New Education policy as a national system of education after its approval by the parliament. The document on national policy on education is divided into twelve parts. It discusses in some detail about some of the essential characteristics of national system of education providing scope for equal access to education to all irrespective of class, caste, creed, or sex, and areas including backward, hilly and desert. It envisages a common educational structure of 10+2+3, a common core in the curricular programme at some level, an understanding of the diverse socio-cultural systems of the people while motivating the younger generations for international co-operation and peaceful co-existence. The New Education Policy, therefore stresses the need for removal of disparities and emphasizes the steps to be taken to equalize educational opportunity by attending to the specific needs of those who have been denied equality so far- women, SC, ST, the handicapped, and certain minority groups who are either educationally deprived or backward. The document makes a series of observations on cultural perspectives, value education, languages, books and libraries, media and educational technology, work experience, education and environment, mathematics teaching, science education, sports and physical education, the role of youth, and proposes to recast the examination system so as to ensure a method of assessment that is valid and reliable measure of a student’s overall development and a powerful instrument for teaching and learning. It is interesting to note that the framer of the New Education policy never answered how new is this New Education Policy? The New Education Policy has borrowed many of its ideas from the previous policy i.e. Kothari commission report. If the New Education Policy is not new in themes and ideas it is certainly new in the emphasis it has placed on its implementation and the directions it has issued for the purpose.

            We have discussed in brief how national policy on education has emerged in the post independent India. The country after partition saw many upheavals. The task to achieve was great. We are now a developing country. In the quest of developing we have seen how national policy on education gradually evolved. In a distinct country like ours where there are many diversities state plays a key role in education so that the fabric of the society should be maintained and can not be eroded. We will see now the role of state in a developing democratic society like India and the constraints in achieving objectives of education.           

State as the Key to the Role of Education:

            The Indian people have set before them a goal to establish a socialist, secular and democratic society. In building such a society, education has to play a significant role. Education can bring many changes in the existing culture of society, but all within the existing social structure. If it chooses to promote cultural changes that endanger that structure, it must have behind it the sanction of the State. Such states usually come into existence through social action to make it possible to effect structural changes in society.

            Thus the State appears to be the key to the role that education can play, both in social and cultural change. The fact that the State in India today is change oriented, it provides Indian education with opportunities of playing an important role in transforming the Indian society into the society of our vision.

            Two prolonged task Indian education should help in ushering in a socialist, secular and democratic country. They are:

1.                  The School System as a whole must possess Socialist, Secular and democratic characteristics.

2.                  Each school in the system must become a nursery of the values and virtues of the trinity of socialism, secularism and democracy.

            The socialist concept of man as an essentially social rational and cooperative being may be in the nature of understandings, attitudes and skills. The individual is truly a social product. These qualities, therefore, should be used in the interest of society. Human being is a part and parcel of society. Therefore, the qualities of a socialist concept of man must be possessed by every individual.

Secularism and Education:

            Secularism may be defined as a belief that religion should not enter into the functions of the State. Secularism is not concerned with what is religious and spiritual and is surely opposed to everything that is irrational. A rational outlook is according to this view an important component of secularism.

            In secular India, the citizen should recognize the religious pluralisms of this country and have an objective attitude towards religions. He should have an intelligent understanding of the organs and the social functions of religion. Education should promote such ideals. This will enhance the cohesiveness and brotherhood among the people in a plural developing society like India. Every now and then we see riots in different region. The is due to the fact that education has not played its role effectively in developing secular outlook among the people and many of us have become intolerant towards religion of others which in turn has made us orthodox in our outlook rather than secular and tolerant.

Democracy and Personality Characteristics:

            The democratic citizen should be familiar with the norms of democratic conflict and must be able and also willing to submit himself finally to the will of the majority. He must also possess respect for others and the capacity to tolerate views and ways different from his own. There are some of the qualities that education should seek to promote in the citizen for the success of democracy not only as a form of Government but also as a way of life.

Important Attributes of a Socialist, Secular and Democratic System of Education:

Ensuring Equality of Educational Opportunity: According to this concept we must ensure that all children go to school and the state bears the burden of maintaining the poor children in the educational system. This may mean not only scholarships to individual students, but also maintenance grants to the low-income group families who keep employable children at school and forgo the income from their earnings.

            Secondly we must ensure that all children have the equal chance to prove their worth in school. Today there is inequality between the wealthy and the educated parents on the one hand and children from the poor homes on the other. There seems to be no easy and satisfactory solution to this problem within the education system itself. Compensatory education is one of the means to provide extra learning opportunities to children from poor homes. However, no educational arrangement can wholly compensate for the natural advantages of the family environment. The ultimate solution may be the abolition of the wide cultural gap between families which mostly lies outside the educational system.

Ensuring Common School System: Socialism seeks to abolish the distinction between the private school, the government school and the public school. It demands a common school, which would cater to all children, irrespective of class, caste and creed. In a developing society common school system is important as they will help everyone to develop themselves with the development of society.

Ensuring Democratic FunctioningA democratic citizen can be produced only when the system of education itself is democratic. For the realization of this objective, we are required to work on two fronts. First, there should be more collaborative decision making in the school and at every level of administration and Secondly greater responsiveness of the system of education to the aspirations of the common man. This will boost the confidence among the masses for their participation and contribution towards development.

Ensuring Effective Teaching of Socialism, Secularism and DemocracyIf the system of education is to subserve the purposes of socialism, secularism and democracy, the system must provide for their effective and compulsory teaching at all levels of education. Teaching of these values may be different in different discipline; however, one thing is sure that it will imbibe the values among the pupil.

Action Needed at the School Level: There is no doubt that it is through the individual school that the system of education operates and achieves its goal. A system of education fails or succeeds to the extent the schools under the system fail or succeed in fulfilling their responsibilities. The school will have to be the nursery of the virtues and values of socialism, secularism and democracy. A school can convey attitudes and values to the students through three different ways:

(a) Direct teaching

(b) Living or practicing the values and attitudes to be learnt and

(c) Teachers becoming models embodying the desired attitudes and values.

            If democratic values are to be taught, then the schools itself become an ideal democratic community, with the students actively participating in the democratic processes of the community. If secular attitudes are to be inculcated, the school community itself should be free from non-secular features. The major inspiration must come from the socially provided 'model', i.e. the teacher. He should be an embodiment of socialist, secular and democratic values, as far as possible.

            However, there are several constraints to bring equality in education in the developing society like that of India. These are discussed in brief below.

Constraints imposed by the socio-economic system: An educational system only reflects the realities of its larger Socio-economic environment. While education helps social change, it is itself determined by social realities. The democratization of education often remains an illusion if inequalities and privileges are built into the functioning and values of the socio-economic system. If the urge for egalitarianism in education is genuine and dynamic, it will surely contribute to socio-economic change as well as educational transformation. But the prospects of educational change are limited if the socio-economic environment is not favourable and even resisted to change.

Constraints imposed by the lack of political will and clarity of societal goals: Problems concerning the expansion of educational facilities at various levels and the qualitative improvement of educational content depend upon the goals of society and the priorities it sets for reaching these goals. Education embraces the totality of a society, but the State or Government is the most important instrument for bringing about a change. The allocation of resources is determined by social priorities determined by the State, and in India education has so far received a rather low priority in terms of resources in spite of loud professions of its over-riding importance. This has widened the gap between thought and action. The absence of political will for educational reform and transformation has been the strongest constraint. Our miserable performance in the efforts to eradicate illiteracy was largely due to the lack of political will for achieving this objective.

Constraints imposed by the dead weight of tradition: Another powerful constraint is strong, ingrained conservatism of the educational system which breeds its own vested interests in the form of institutions and their managers who prefer habit and tradition to change and innovation. Our universities are such institutions and often their autonomy is used to preserve outmoded tradition and offer resistance to change. The dead weight of tradition and vested interest stands in the way of experimentation and change, resulting in a state of unreality and irrelevance. We need to break the traditionalconservatism of educational institutions by a more flexible and creative outlook that can generate and nurture innovations and offer greater facilities for expression and fulfillment to diverse groups and individual aptitudes in vast and pluralistic society. The superficial attractions of uniformity must be rejected in the interest higher quality and greater creativity which result from decentralization, flexibility, local autonomy and innovative actions.

Constraints imposed by the Inadequacies of Planning: These essential elements for a wide participation in the process of educational change could not be realised on account of defective planning and lack of adequate implementation. Research and training programmes were neither developed adequately nor applied to qualitative improvements which failed to materialize. The institutional infrastructure remained almost the same in form and functioning as was inherited from the colonial period, and in several ways good institutions suffered from neglect. Quality declined; only quantity exploded, and we continued to project with pride inflated statistical information which ignored the rot that had set in. It is time now to establish a better planning machinery, to extend and improve upon training facilities and, above all, to ensure real and speedy implementation by active participation of all concerned and a dynamic mobilization of social resources through decentralization and local initiatives.

Constraints Imposed by the Neglect of Various Constituents of the Education Process: The first and most important step is to recognize the educational process and give it a central role in bringing about educational change. No worth while change will materialize unless the teachers are ready, the parents approve and the students understand and accept. This is possible only when teachers are fully involved in planning and decision-making at all levels and regular consultation takes place with parents and students. The Indian educational scene continues to be dominated by bureaucrats and politicians neglecting the teacher to a depressed status and passive role, and neglecting parents and students. Since Independence, the power of the politician and the influence of the bureaucrat have tended to increase in the field of education at the expense of teachers and parents, and students have not been in the picture at all. To ensure more effective and meaningful reform, we must now reverse those trends and give the teacher his due. While national policies must be finally made by people's elected representatives, supported and assisted by the best technical knowledge available, such policies should be evolved in close consultation with those who are intimately involved in the educational process, that is, the teachers, parents and students.

            It is clear that the five constraints to educational change have to be taken into account and overcome in the planning and implementation of reform. We cannot ignore the limitation imposed by the realities of the larger socio economic, system, the lack of political will and clarity of societal goals and priorities, the dead weight of tradition, vested interest and ingrained conservatism of educational establishments, inadequacies of planning, research, training and implementation, and neglect of teachers, parents and students in the making of policies, decisions and plans of educational reform. Wider and deeper reflections on education and societal participation in the progress of change are clearly called for, and to realize these imperatives, active and dynamic association of teachers and parents is necessary, timely and crucial.

Present Educational Needs: The education of the future providing for man's total life span must be oriented to his fulfillment as an individual person, as a creative worker, and as a member of his society at local, national and global levels. The educational programmes and processes should be related to the needs of contemporary man looking towards a fast changing future. The integrity, ability and wholeness of man, achieved through an appropriate system of education is the most precious asset of the individual and his society, and it is this aim which needs to be conceived and planning in the context of life-long education and the capacity to adapt and innovate now requires more than ever, an over-riding stress on the building of character and the strengthening of the moral and, spiritual dimensions of personality. To his end UNESCO'S Report Learning to be rightly states : "The physical, intellectual, emotional and ethical integration of the individual into a complete man is a broad definition of the fundamental aim of education."