Education as a Means for Empowerment

                   students education                                          

Society is in a state of flux. It is undergoing constant change and reformation. This element of metamorphosis is true for all fields of human endeavour – be it agriculture, commerce, industry or the arts and sciences. We are living in an age of information explosion where vast quantities of written matter are available thus allowing access to an array of ideas and topics. The role of visual and print media has enabled the spread of news on a scale never before imagined. To add to this, there is an excess of advertising and commercial media with which one is constantly being bombarded. All these have become pervasive features of the social environment and are increasingly exerting an influence on our day-to-day lives. In very subtle and unobtrusive ways they are influencing our attitudes and are shaping the mindsets of people. To cite an example, much of the content of the conversations that take place at workplaces is centred on what is portrayed in the media.

The onset of digitisation has resulted in the accessibility of vast stores of information in the fraction of a second. The internet has become an indispensable utility without which no work can progress. The significance of Google as an omnipresent necessity – the source of knowledge for modern day humans – to which all instantly turn towards and almost becoming elevated to a “god”. Not to forget the remarkable contribution of Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing, not only in freeing us from the rigor of tedious and complex tasks, but in the management of huge amounts of data, reducing capital expenses and in enhancing accuracy and speed. It is in such a scenario that we have been evolving and are paving the way for our future generations. Undoubtedly one would agree that there is a need for a dynamic new education system that caters to the developmental needs of those young minds growing in our society today.

Education is a domain that can permeate almost every discipline or field. To become competent or to gain expertise in any area, one has to familiarize oneself with it and go through a process of training. The significance of education lies in the fact that it can have a far-reaching impact on directing the trends or in shaping future prospects for a nation. It is the key to the physical, mental, intellectual, spiritual, and social development of an individual and frames various aspects of our collective life. It helps to establish one as a self-reliant and independent human being. Further, the shaping of individual thought and action, in terms of independent thinking, openness towards new ideas, becoming enlightened, instilling creativity and the willingness to learn from every experience, is another aspect with which education is or should be concerned. For this reason, the nature of this essential process and the way it is carried out deserves careful attention.

If the current state of affairs be probed, one observes how the area of education has evolved over time. Whether it is the system that is driving the student or whether the students are being drawn out in accordance with their interests and abilities is something to be pondered upon. There is a growing feeling today that something is wrong with our system of education, but what is it? Well, we send our children to school to prepare them for the real world which is changing very fast. But our schools haven’t changed for hundreds of years. To identify the problem, it may be helpful to go back in time and examine how these challenges have come about. The present system of education was modelled in the interests of the Industrial Age. The sole intent of the education system in pre-modern Europe was to train people to be willing to work in a factory that is to churn out workers. The emphasis on the acquisition of facts as echoed by Superintendent Gradgrind of Dickens’ novel Hard Times rings true even today. Most competitive exams demand that those aspiring to appear for them should cram vast amounts of information which is mostly factual in nature.

Like other systems of production and exchange, our education system is operating on the principles of demand and supply. To set up any educational institution, there is a cost benefit analysis carried out and various factors are considered before initiating the undertaking. The mentality of mass production and mass control still runs in large scale conglomerates who provide the funds for schools to be run. On the one hand, outmoded methods of functioning are responsible for many of the problems facing the school system coupled with issues concerning infrastructure and the availability of funds. On the other hand, there are challenges related to teacher expertise and competency which impacts the performance of students and in turn the overall pass percentage of the school. In some cases, rather than being classified on the basis of their interests, students are categorized according to their grades or marks which are not an accurate indicator of a student’s capacity. Yet, because the school is under pressure to show good results, they resort to various strategies by which the Average Pass Percentage of the school may be increased.

Another matter of concern is the circumstances existing within families. There is widespread paternalism that has been predominant in the lives of the older generations which in turn impacts the lives of the younger generations and proves to be disempowering for them. The need to create more wealth has resulted in greater pressure on the younger generations. As a result, too much focus on academics does not allow students to develop their interests and abilities. Acquiring a well-paying job has become a necessity of primary importance for the younger generation. It is a means of fulfilling their desire for independence and freedom from age-old traditions and customs has thus become a penultimate goal for a vast majority of young people. The attainment of adulthood which can be likened to the time when full-grown chicks must leave their nest often implies entering the world of jobs and professions. It is then that they actually face reality and realize that much of their behaviour and attitudes are shaped by the way they were conditioned within their families. Their upbringing has not made them adequately able to face the world outside and their education has not trained them to think clearly. Quite often there is a communication gap between parents and children, which ends up turning into a generation gap. There have been numerous instances where rigorous education stifles the ability of students to express their emotions and the immense pressure of studies has resulted in nervous breakdowns. As a result, they may end up living with misconceptions throughout their lives which becomes a cause of great distress and anxiety with its resultant spillover in society.

Given the challenges faced, it can be agreed that there is a need for spreading awareness among people as well as a need for changes to be brought about within the existing systems and structures. From one perspective, this may seem like a Herculean task as there are so many factors to be taken into consideration. The way the current system is structured and the complex interconnections within it is something that merits deeper analysis. However, as people become more conscious, steps could be taken to enable positive efforts and initiatives in this direction. The present model needs to be restructured such that education is not just concerned with imparting the syllabus but rather each student should be viewed as latent with potential. A shift from a consumer-based model where the student is perceived as an end in himself, simply as a product in the assembly line is required. The nature of the training carried out within this system, can have far-reaching impacts in either shaping its wards in a positive direction, or its lacunae can result in detrimental effects not just upon the students per se but in the long run can influence society as a whole. If human potential is channelled in the right direction, it will go a long way in enabling them to become prospective contributors who will align with the more constructive forces in society.

Education is characterized as a learning cycle for a person to achieve information and comprehension of the higher explicit topics and implicit meanings of a given subject matter. The information acquired by an individual is an example of thought and conduct as per the training they have acquired. A complete change is required in the pedagogy such that rote learning is replaced by student-centred approaches for training the mind and building their understanding. The inclusion of imaginative and aesthetic subjects in the curriculum can enable students to have a more realistic view of the world around them. A departure from the former methods of dictation and instruction to a mode where students are equipped with the intellectual tools and resources that will enable them to navigate the different stages of their development is the need of the hour. As stated by Gerald Belcher “The best education is not given to students; it is drawn out of them.” In such a set-up, the acquisition of education becomes a process where the teacher facilitates and capacitates this life-time experience for the students. Such a model can go a long way in shaping the participants of our education system, thus resulting in the creation of genuinely virtuous and fulfilled human beings.

Vivian Merchant is an alumnus of JNU and is currently working as Administrative Assistant at Chapters International. Views expressed are personal


Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Save the University of Madras

The irony is that the A++ Graded University is found to be violative of I-T Laws. The I-T Department had frozen the bank accounts of the University of Madras, a…

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News