Educating Constitutional Morality


The Liberating potential of education has been identified by many social reformers like Jyotirao Phule, Periyar and Ambedkar while confronting the social evils and its subsequent discrimination. Similarly Paulo Freire in his classical book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” has detailed the significance of Conscientizacao, which means learning to perceive social, political and economic contradictions, and to take action against oppressive elements of reality. For such transformative education to be a reality, he said education should be problem-posing then depositing, where the information is deposited in the minds of learner without any transformative praxis. But, the contemporary society has quantified all aspects of our life, where the value of individuals achievement is reduced to quantifiable aspect like marks, salary etc., devoid of any critical praxis for societal transformation. The quality of education discussion in policy rooms are still confined to quantifiable number of schools/colleges/universities, teachers, finance etc., which is also significant, but we need to think beyond this in identifying and realising the transformative potential of education for creating an egalitarian society.

Our education system doesn’t need Platonic transcendental ideal or any glorified past to follow, as we already have an ideological foundation laid down in Indian Constitution, which underlines the Constitutional moral values to follow. The quality and success of education system has to move beyond numbers in inculcating Constitutional Morality among the younger generation. This has been reiterated by various commission/committees over the years from the time of independence, but never got truly indoctrinated in the classroom teaching practices.

The report of the University Education Commission (1949) headed by Dr.S.Radhakrishnan has emphasized that the social philosophy governing our educational, economic and political institutions are in the preamble of our draft Constitution. In 1953, the Report of the Secondary Education Commission also called as Mudaliar Commission said that the school education should lay the foundation for inculcating the value of social justice based on sensitiveness to social evils and exploitation. Further the report emphasized that education should stress the value of tolerance for the survival of our democracy with many faiths, races and communities.

The Kothari Commission (1964) also identified education as a powerful instrument for social, economic and political changes fulfilling the long term national aspirations. The National Policy of Education (1986 & 1992) insisted on promoting scientific temper and independence of mind and spirit towards realising the Constitutional goals of socialism, secularism and democracy. Further it wanted education system to empower women and change their social status and also eliminate obscurantism, religious fanaticism, violence, superstition and fatalism.

National Curricular Framework (2005) wanted to strengthen participatory democracy and Constitutional values through curricular reform. It further insisted that education system should strengthen our commitment to democracy and the values of equality, freedom, secularism, concern for others, human dignity and rights. The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education or Yash Pal Committee (2009) wanted to assess university performance based on their actions to reduce gender, caste and class asymmetries, accommodating India’s diversity, and its outcome. While assessing the University, academic excellence should be combined with excellence from social perspective to stop universities from isolating themselves from the surrounding social world.

National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education (2009) again emphasized that teachers should promote constitutional values of peace, democracy, equality, justice, liberty, fraternity and secularism. The Draft National Education Policy, 2019, insist on developing Constitutional values of democratic outlook and commitment to liberty and freedom; equality, justice and fairness; embracing diversity, plurality and inclusion; humaneness and fraternal spirit; social responsibility and spirit of service; ethics of integrity and honesty; scientific temper and commitment to rational and public dialogue; peace; social action through constitutional means…….etc. But conspicuously the draft omitted value of secularism.

Constitutional morality is our commitment towards realising the substantive moral values of Indian Constitution for achieving the ideals as enshrined in the Preamble. As Prof.Pratap Bhanu Mehta accentuated, upholding Constitutional Morality requires various forms of disassociation from our primordial and accidental identities like caste, religion, race, ethnicity, language etc., and strengthen our political identity as citizens of this country. Such Constitutional acculturation through education will strengthen Political Nationalism, which is inclusive emphasising the citizenship rights and duties irrespective of caste, class, religion, gender and ethnic identity, rather than identity based exclusive cultural nationalism. In a multi-cultural country like India, where diversity cut across numerous identities, which developed historically, the national identity can never be found in past and has to be consciously constructed through our secular endeavours.

Our education system should resolve to show India with all its diversity, as a political community inclusive of all members within the territorial limits of the political state, which could be of different religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural groups. Our societal insensitivity as reflected in the violence against women and children, Caste discrimination, cultural and religious intolerance, burgeoning inequality and reducing scientific temper can be encountered only by strengthening our political nationalism. Thus we need to reorient our education in truly imbibing the Constitutional Morality among the younger generation for a better India.

Dr.Venkatanarayanan S, teaches at Andaman Law College, Port Blair. He was 2018 CICOPS Fellow at University of Pavia, Italy.




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