This is a response to Melody Queen’s article Education and Character Building , a re- look at our education system; of what education should truly be
I invite view and debate on issues of education systems in India and state of affairs in Indian Universities
That was a thoughtful and well articulated. Your concern for education system and its products comes through. There is a disconnect between education and demands of life, as you mentioned. Many are ill equipped to face life and its realities.
Paradigm of education has changed drastically. Even that paradigm is bursting at its seams. It struggles to provide a framework for explanations and understandings of life and learning. Our universities are no longer idyllic havens of learning; and guiding enquiry of knowledge is no longer their primary objective. This is because our universities represent our priorities and reflect the anxieties and aspirations; ills and wells; strengths and weakness; and of the values of the society we live in.
Many challenges and motivations that entered into the campus are beyond the ken of its administrators. Further, campuses are open to influences of the interests that poach on the gullibility of student community.
We live in a violent world. That is understood; but occasionally we get very shocking reminders of this fact. I recoil from the shock and horror occurring on the campus of JNU and in Madhya Pradesh where a Professor succumbed to student attack. They reflect the hate and violence in the heart of the society.
The manifestations of violence are varied. The source is always the same; our society and its value systems. These events drive me to silence. When it erupts, it crosses the boundaries of civilized behavior, and then barbarism just takes over. Those who indulge in it justify by their own frame of reference. When it breaches the frame of reference of civilized behavior, it backfires on the society. That is the reason civilization is circumscribed by what we forbid ourselves to do than what we are permitted. I wonder how universities can ever keep their campuses safe while respecting the rights of individual students and the dignity of its teachers.
A case in point is the Jawaharlal Nehru University of New Delhi (JNU).It is a hotbed of politics. Every political party has its group in the student unions. “The complexities of JNU politics leaves me longing for the simplicity of Iraq ” remarked one Indian diplomat.
On campus, NSUI represents the Congress – which runs the UPA Government; ABVP is the representative of BJP family; SFI-AISF stand for the CPI (M) and CPI; and in addition, there is AISA -led JNUSU. There are also separate Dalit groups, OBC groups and other interested groups. Each political party highlights its agenda by organizing demonstrations, rallies etc. through its control group in JNU.And, parties opposing that organize counter demonstrations. All these are carried out in routine and a matter of fact fashion.
Any political or social moment in the country has its ripples in JNU; be it Narmada Andolan or agitation against SEZ or the land grab in Nandigram, OBC reservation issue, reservation for SC/ST/OBC in Multi nationals , you name it ,will be showcased in JNU.
There is intolerance of pluralistic view; total disregard for individual rights and debate. Opinions are thrust by violence rather by debate. It is fueled by its own justifications. JNU is virtually an on going chaos.
JNU and other varsities serve as recruiting grounds for political parties.Smart politicians and leaders poach on students to further their (leaders) ends. The campus rage business is both a means and an end. This is a special contribution of the subcontinent to public life.
You mentioned about teachers; teaching, in India today, is the last resort of the average achiever. He resorts to teaching when all better avenues are closed. Even here, recommendations and quotas play a greater role than merit. The quality of teaching staff is therefore indifferent. The teachers in turn get involved in-group affiliations by design or accident. The ugly incidents you cited might be a fall out of this unfortunate phenomenon.
Various quotas, recommendations and donations (buying admissions) and merit to an extent regulate the admission of students to professional colleges. Its students range from angles to virtual devils with a large section being clueless sleepwalkers.
Educational assessment in India is largely based on exams whose score alone is given maximum weightage.There is no appreciation for individuality or enterprise. That may be one of the reasons you do not see many Indians in decision-making positions. There is a gaping wide between college output and industry requirement. An IIM alumnus remarked, “We are dealing with the best-educated generation in our history. But they’ve got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go”.
Our boys and girls are lauded and appreciated, all over the world, for their hard work, commitment and ingenuity. That is not because of the system but it is despite the system we have.
Our universities are not merely a microcosm of our society but are the prototype of its future. Its quality depends on the values we nurture and respect at home, on streets, in communities and in political life. Our education systems will be as good as we allow them to be. It is a reflection of the way we live. Unless there is a marked improvement in these areas there is no way the campus culture would improve.